Monday, January 23, 2012

Long-sleeve dresses for big little girls

With the temperatures being super low around here right now, my four year old still insists on wearing dresses. We have multiple short and no sleeve dresses but she does not want to wear them with a shirt underneath and it seems that the long-sleeve dresses that she has already are ALWAYS in the laundry.

So, I whipped up a few dresses from fabric remnants. Here they are.

Peasant dress made of snuggle flannel

Does this green jersey look familiar?

Yes, remnants from my green wrap dress

OK, and one with no sleeves

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Maternity Wrap Skirt - TUTORIAL

Skirt worn as empire waist
 I have been looking for a maternity wrap skirt because I figured I could still wear it afterwards.

AGAIN, no success.

I found a skirt that I liked, but the creator's pattern / tutorial to the link does not work (WHY!??!), I ended up making my own pattern.

As you can see, I used some silkie fabric.

Dont know why but currently I find bold colors with equally loud embroidery just too hot. Must be some sort of a Bollywood virus.

And these are my scribbles on how to cut the pieces ....

And here is how I did it:
  1. Cut the pieces: Back Panels 2x (or 1x on fold), Front Side Panels 2x, Front Middle 1x, Ties 2x. 
  2. Sew together the three front parts
  3. Sew back panels together if you cut 2 pieces
  4. Sew back to front on one side
  5. Make tie: Sew both pieces on small side together, making one long piece
  6. Press tie in half by folding it on the short sides, making one super long and skinny tie
  7. Sew tie on open sides with frail edges pressed inwards (kind of like bias taping)
  8. Pin tie on skirt, sew on with center of tie in middle of front middle
  9. Hem bottom of skirt
  10. Create a buttonhole for the tie to slip through
    Skirt on worn hips
    So, during pregnancy, you can wear this piece below the belly (as you can see here in the picture on the side) or as an empire waist (see picture at beginning of this page).
After (or before), you wear it at your regular waistline (no picture from me in that condition in a while).

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Monday, January 9, 2012


Sorry, bad light...
My friend Allin gave me this black silk cardigan. She said she did not wear cardigans and I also found a tiny hole in one of the arms very close to the seam.


The additional material I used was about 1/2 yard of some silk fabric in a light rose tone.

Since the original cardigan was a size M, I figured I had to adjust it a little bit, since I am normally a size S.

I also wasn't sure about the length, which was somewhere between waist and hips and since it was a straight cut, this piece would make ANY body look boxy.

So, first I cut the piece off right above my waistline, allowing it to be a little more flattering.

While I was cutting, I also opened the side seams and took the sleeves out.

As I mentioned, there was a tiny hole on one of the sleeves, so I shortened the sleeves. TATAA!

Next, I grabbed an old pattern that fit me to see which measurements I was going to end up with.

 And I adjusted the bodice accordingly.
 As well as the sleeves. It was not much to be chopped off, though.
Then I decided to give the bottom edges a more rounded look.
 Now, off to the ruffles....

I used about 1/2 yard of something silkie and cut it in two strips of about 6 inches width.

Then I sewed them together as if they were a tube and I closed the ends.

 Then I folded the strips and with a stitch of about 4, I sewed in the middle with a kind of baste stitch. Leave the thread long.

After that you can simply pull on one of the threads and it gathers up nicely.
 Then I decided to finish the cardigan up. I sewed the adjusted pieces back together and hemmed the edged bottom.
Finally, I added the ruffle strips. Here you can see them pinned on the mannequin. Obviously, some pressing is needed.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Sunday, January 8, 2012


This weather here is truely interesting:

Nice and warm during the day but super-chilly at night.

So, I have been thinking about something warm for me to wear since I do not fit in anything non maternity any longer.

Here is what I made from Anti-Pill Fleece.... and YES, IT IS WARM!

Will put a tutorial together, if there is some interest. Let me know.
With one side over shoulder

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I love ruffles on skirts and dresses. And of course, being pregnant doesn't have to mean that you cannot look cute any longer. However, most maternity clothes I found was either not so cute or overpriced and sometimes even BOTH.

OK, time to bring out the sewing machine.

I used about 1 yard of main fabric and 1/2 yard for ruffles and belly band.

I started with a pencil skirt kind of layout. Since I used stretchy fabric, I simply did this:

Measure hips, add 2 inches (5 cm) and use this as your width for the pattern. In my case, I ended up at 38 inches.

Then I decided on the length of my skirt. I wanted it to reach to my knees, so I had my length: 20 inches.

Then I cut that piece of fabric for the main skirt piece; mine is a jeans colored animal print. I know, it sounds wild but the fabric is actually pretty toned down and subtle. But then again, being pregnant is kind of a wild ride, isn't it?!

Since we will make this a maternity skirt, I also cut the piece for the 'belly band', which I also used a stretchy fabric but a different one.  I used some jersey knit in grey and cut it according to my waist measurement 24 inches in length and I typically make them 24 inches in height as well.

I started with the belly band and pressed about 1/2 inch (1cm) inward on both width ends.

Then I  pressed the piece in half with wrong sides facing. The fold that you get is the top portion of the belly band.

The openings with the two little folds need to be sewn onto the main skirt; kinda like bias taping. I used zig-zag stitch throughout since I find this easier for stretchy materials.

So, I pinned and sewed the grey belly band onto the main skirt piece.

I recommend to start with the inside and then lay the outside over the visible seam on the main piece's.

From the outside it should look like this.

Then I closed the seam in the back, making it a tube.

I pinned the piece onto the mannequin, so you can see where you should be at right now.

To give it somewhat more of the Flamenco look I curved the bottom end a little bit.

NOTE: Only a little, because my big belly will ride this skirt up anyways and I don't want to flash anyone.

Now, off to some serious ruffles. 

For that, I cut strips of 4 inches in height and 1.5 times the length as my width for the skirt was. 

Then, I pinned the first ruffle right sides facing onto the end of the skirt (where the knees will be). SEW.

Then simply keep cutting strips of 4 inches in height and add them.

As you can see, I started to bring them in from the sides into the middle to pronounce the cut curve.

I also added a small piece of the main fabric for interest.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Friday, January 6, 2012


I have been searching forever to find a free pattern and / or tutorial for this maternity wrap top. I loove this so much since it is comfy, easy and obviously not just a maternity item.

However, my search was UNSUCCESSFUL. Megan Nielsen had a wonderful free tutorial online but now has decided to charge $15 for it. While I had saved the link a while ago, the pattern / tutorial was not free anymore and I was somewhat disappointed.

Of course buying a pattern for $15 is not an option right now with all the major baby expenses that are awaiting us.

So, what's a girl to do? I used a pattern from my old knitting projects. DUH! And drafted it out here, so you can follow along, because I am pretty sure that I am not the only thrifty one out here. Hehe.

First things first: The sizing was in Euro clothing and centimeters, so I converted it in US clothing and inches. I will give you BOTH measurements. First, find your size:

US       6/8       10/12   14/16
Euro    36/38   40/42   44/46

I am normally a size 4 but for maternity, I figured to go up one size and as you can see from the picture it was a good decision. Gotta admit: I am new at both, sewing and sketching / sizing, so while I believe the numbers should be correct, please feed back if I miscalculated. THX!

OK, so here are my sketches. . . First the centimeter one...

And here is the inches one.

NOTE: No seam allowance is included. However, since I sewed everything with a zig-zag stitch right at the edge of the material, I did not need to add any seam allowance.

MATERIALS: Approx. 3.5 yards of knit jersey fabric, stretchy

First, I sewed the shoulders together. I pinned everything like mad because these stretchy materials are soo slippery. And I used a zig-zag stitch all throughout. Saves the hemming.

Second, I closed the slides, leaving on the left side about a 5 inch (12cm) gap, which I positioned about 2 (5cm) inches from the waist end. This is where the right tie will come through. I zig-zagged around the opening to prevent frailing.

Then sewed the sleeves on at the shoulders. I am not crazy about sewing sleeves; this seams to always be a hassle. For that I typically put sleeve and the main piece on right sides and then pin from the inside.

Then I added the ties.

Lastly, I zig-zagged around the whole piece to give it somewhat of a hemmed appeal.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Thursday, January 5, 2012



Whew, what a year it has been...

We moved to beautiful open-spaced Agoura Hills with its breath-taking surroundings, started a homestead and while doing so, took the whole house and garden apart and have been working on restoring it our way.

Yep, lots of inbetweens and corrections and learning curve here.

We built raised beds, trellises, duck and chicken houses, terraced the backyard, moved the pond, installed rainwater collecting wine barrels, transplanted many of the original landscape and gave most of it away (good riddens to all those ornamentals), while seeding and planting edibles all over the place.

We hatched chickens, raised ducklings and said chickens, became beekeepers, gave away some chickens and sadly lost our hive to mites.

We learnt a lot of things from our mistakes and some of the things I am def going to bare in mind for 2012 is to start mite-preventing earlier and obvously it helps for us to understand our weather patterns a bit better these days to prevent some of the dramatic edible losses we had.

Here is our harvest tally for 2011:

346.5 lbs of produce, 314 duck eggs and 82 chicken eggs.
And I haven't even weighed the beeswax yet but assume its another 10 lbs.

Not bad for a regular sized city lot and only 4 young birdies, huh?

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

DECEMBER 2011 - Harvest Tally and Molting birds

This marks the eleventh month of our mini-farm adventure and boy, it's cold out here.

Not much to harvest at this point, thank god for our feathered friends. They are staring to go into molt, so there were not that many eggs either. Birds need sun and warmth to lay eggs. If it is too cold, they won't lay. This is also the season when they renew their feathers. And yes, they do look a tad scrunchy, so I will spare you pictures of my sad looking girlies.

Here is the harvest tally for December 2011:
5 lbs of zucchini

A total 5 lbs of produce and 39 duck and 36 chicken eggs. 
"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis