PR&P week 5: japanese tea party

we’re getting down to brass tacks here on project run & play! it’s week 5, and in case you may have missed it, last week’s outerwear voting (and judging) was so close they decided to make it a non-elimination round. that means this week is a DOUBLE elimination round, heading into the finale next week! eeps!

one thing that i’ve tried to be conscious of throughout this competition is remaining true to my aesthetic. it’s surprisingly easy to start feeling swayed by what other people are doing in a situation like this, especially because i tend to design things that are much more understated, normally. so i have worked hard to keep to my own look while still pushing myself to add “wow.” i think this week is my best example of that balance. the jacket has clean lines and is very wearable, the pink shirt and ballet skirt are more elevated from the everyday. most of the time i’m sewing what i hope she’ll want to wear anyway, and using pink, elephants, and ballet stuff are always a good bet!

for initial inspiration, i couldn’t stop looking at this lovely loveliness. it guided me to make the skirt, textured top, and use olive green tones.

source: pinterest, original site appears to be defunct

i did a bit more sleuthing around on the skirt and i believe it’s from shabby apple, although theirs only looks to be in white. regardless, i had to make it for my ballerina girl. it’s a batiste circle skirt on the bottom, then three layers of cream tulle, also circle skirts. gotta admit, i felt pretty smart when i realized i could cut them that way and avoid hemming the tulle!

oh and the shirt! did anyone recognize it from Em’s birthday???

i even used the same petal template! it’s all pink voile (the birthday pinata is tissue paper). i hand cut the 65 petals and decided to leave all edges raw for a fluttery look. i lined them up in a row, stitched them down, layered the next ones on top, stitched those down, etc. i then sewed the front and back parts of the shirt together, bound the neckline and armholes, and hemmed the bottom. pretty easy, but a really nice textural effect and added the dose of pink that Em loves.

here are my initial drawings of both:

so i had the general concept down and knew i wanted a textured shirt, but didn’t have the idea for the kimono jacket until monday this week! that morning, feeling a little stuck, i asked Em what she wanted me to make her. she told me she wanted an elephant coat with elephant buttons (i’d shown the buttons to her before)! i thought a kimono would add to the japanese vibe of the peony shirt, so once again, i hit the fabric store on my lunch hour. i don’t usually drive to work, so i walked to the only fabric store near me, which is smallish and has just a little of everything. jackpot, though – they had this dark olive sueded twill. i paired it with the kona olive that i keep on hand because it’s my favorite, and i thought the tonal effect was pretty magical.

i’m now calling this her “ballet ninja” jacket. other PR&P post titles i considered this week were “tea for elephants” and “skirt as top’s skirt and top,” but i chickened out. 🙂

for the jacket pattern, i took the one i made for little red and shortened it, slimmed it a bit, and shortened the sleeves by a couple inches. then i drew a subtle curve from one shoulder to the other armpit, similarly to how i drafted my sweet tartan dress. so the pattern is still originally based on the oliver + s sunday brunch jacket (out of print but can be found in stores, and they’ve been realeasing lots of out of print patterns as digital ones lately), but the only original elements left now are the armholes and shoulder seams! it closes with three of those cute little elephant buttons.

and yeah, i totally hand-finished the whole neckline and sleeve bindings with a blind stitch. i wasn’t going to, but at 10:30pm the night before i planned to take photos, i decided it was a must to preserve the cleanliness of the jacket. i’m so glad i did, even if it meant another late sewing night.

the lining is marrakech elephants by valori wells. i’m sure Em wishes it was on the outside. hehe.

all photos were taken here, which turned out so perfectly – i had forgotten that their house was the same colors as the jacket! my lovely host was thanked profusely and gifted some special fabric for the trouble.

i got waaaay too many great photos, so please forgive the overload!! oh just one more thing: the pretty little orchids in her hair came from the same florist that did our wedding flowers, and i just happened to go get them ON my 8 year wedding anniversary! i thought that was kinda cool.

i’ll stop now so you can head on over to project run & play to vote! japanese tea party! double elimination! vote here!

domo arigato!

**Voting is now closed.**

psssst…want EVEN MORE photos??? check out THE OUTTAKES!


PR&P week 4: little red

oh wow, i am so grateful that i’m still alive and kickin’ in project run and play!  you guys are really the best.  i’m having a fun time thinking as creatively as possible and gaining experience in actually designing out of my own brain rather than following patterns.  this is all so new to me, and it’s changing how i will sew from here on out.  it was really uncomfortable and hard at first, but is becoming normal now and that’s pretty cool.  thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue on!

this week’s challenge is “Outerwear” and i was glad for my outerwear experience lately (here and here) but also stumped on what to make!  i sketched so many different designs for this one – it gave me the most trouble because i had lots of ideas, but none of them really sang to me.  i sketched capes, trench coats, jackets, but everything felt like something i’d seen before.  i tentatively decided on a simple raincoat that i’d make in a cool laminated cotton, and headed to bolt on my lunch break with a friend to look for fabric.  what i found actually surprised me – a bright red canvas that was actually very soft, and i had a lightning bolt inspiration – what about a red riding hood COAT?  hmmmm, i’ve never seen that before!  my friend suggested an oversized “guillermo del toro hood,” whatever that means, and i agreed that a giant pointy hood would be a definite must (thanks buddy!).

i looked for mushroom or some other woodsy japanese import fabric for lining but none was to be found, so i grabbed a great amy butler lark print instead.  on my drive back to work, i had a brainstorm – i’ll print my own fabric on linen!  back to bolt for this lovely natural cotton-linen blend, and then i started printing in a three-phase stamp process.  perfect.

the ticking stripe binding is what i had picked to join in this sewalong which i never got around to, but it got poached for this because i had another brainstorm to add 1/4″ flat piping around the whole coat and it was the perfect fabric!  it was a fun, easy way to add a whole lot of style and break up all that red.  i also added a little “e” label to the back – mine is machine-stitched, but i would have loved to embroider it like this beauty.

the coat pattern is actually based on the oliver + s sunday brunch jacket, which i altered heavily (those are the rules!).  i took the top bodice pieces and extended them out at a diagonal from the armpits to create the swing coat shape.  i shortened the sleeves and flared them out a bit, too.  those are the only pattern pieces i used!  i drew the hood pattern freehand and the canvas is so sturdy, it didn’t even need interfacing.  the sunday brunch pattern isn’t lined, but i lined mine except for the facings under the buttonholes, where i used the canvas for stability.  i piped the whole coat, sleeves, and pockets with the flat piping, and hand-stitched in the sleeve lining and opening that i used to turn the coat closed.  the only visible topstitching is on the pockets, so it has a very clean and finished look.

the dress that i made to go underneath is the leila and bed sweet little dress in a 3T, which i lengthened and slanted out at the side seams to create fullness.  i made it in the amy butler lark print that i’d originally pegged for the coat lining.

the apron is a simple muslin rectangle, gathered and sewn to a waistband that ties.  it has a little toadstool patch on it which i don’t think you can really see in my PR&P post, but it makes me happy and that’s what matters (secret: all toadstools remind me of super mario bros!!).

this coat is the first garment that i’ve sewn for project run & play that really evolved as i made it – the prior three looks were fully formed in my head before i even started sewing.  the piping was a later addition.  because of that, my sketch is super boring this week!

Em really does love this coat, though, and i’m so happy with it too!  it’s already getting a lot of use, which is fantastic!

alright – once again, it’s time to vote!  won’t you please skip on over to project run and play to vote HERE?  voting closes on sunday evening.  i thank you, the ducks thank you, and my little red riding hood girl thanks you!  🙂

**Voting is now closed**

PR&P week 3: flapper tapper

thank you so much for your votes for my boy look last week on project run & play – wow, that was quite the nail-biter! the looks were so solid and the voting was so close, i think it should have been a non-elimination leg. they do those on project runway!

but i made it through to week 3, and i am so excited about this week’s design! we were challenged to “sew through the decades” and i really love the 1920s, so i chose it straightaway. i mean, i took lindy hop class TWICE in college (PE credit!), and as i mention in my PR&P post, i live in a house built in the ’20s and wear a wedding ring made in the ’20s. so yeah…i got ’20s cred. 😉 this is actually the second dress i made for this week – i first made a simple satin dress with a similar hemline to this one, but it had some fit issues and i ended up deciding to scrap it late one night. i woke up the next morning with the design for this dress in my head, furiously sketched it, and could not wait to start sewing! i’ve never had such a strong urge to turn an idea into reality before, so that was really cool.

the bodice took a few fittings to get right, especially with those shoulder straps, which are joined in an oval shape and had to be the perfect length. i’m not much of a quilter either, so the piecing definitely took some thought – i had to figure out which points i wanted to preserve, which to clip, and how to get it to all turn into a bodice that fit her just right! i also knew i’d need to use an invisible zipper, and i’ve only sewn one once before (without much success). i prayed for good naps from the kids and locked myself in my sewing room for the better part of a weekend, taking my time on the details. i got it to the point of hemming and then stalled out for a couple days from sheer sewing fatigue! 😉

but oh, it was worth the mental effort! i’m so proud of this dress. it makes me happy. that’s the cool thing about this PR&P competition – i’m making things directly from MY inspiration that fit the purpose of my entry for the week, rather than sewing what is “needed.” it’s both restrictive and freeing at the same time because as far as inspiration goes, the sky’s the limit.

speaking of inspiration, here’s my wedding ring – can you see the sunburst/trapezoid shapes?

and here is our fireplace mantel, in front of which i took the photos this week. this was one of the few original design elements left in the house when we moved in after many years of remuddling by prior owners. we’ve been trying to slowly restore some of the charm.

so now you can sort of see where the shapes came from for the flapper tapper dress. for the skirt, i pretty much was looking for any excuse to make Em a new circle skirt dress. she STILL loves to put on her christmas dress and dance to the nutcracker on an almost nightly basis. she renamed it “my wonderful twirly dress.” 🙂 i just wanted one in cotton that was a bit easier to wash. ha! i had planned on taking “on location” photos for this dress at any of the cool ’20s art deco buildings in town, but the weather didn’t cooperate and i figured our living room would be more conducive to dancing anyway…

and i doubt you could see the chevron ribbon detail in the PR&P collages, but i must give credit to gail for that lovely find.

they were perfect to tie in the pink from her felt headband feathers (felt feather inspiration here). those feathers were so fun to make, i highly recommend them! the pink one has a paperclip stitched into it to help it stand up.

so that’s my art deco flapper tapper! i’m kind of in love with it, and i hope you are too! if you haven’t yet, head on over to project run and play to vote…now!


**Voting is now closed**

PR&P week 2: tiny timber

thank you soooo much to everyone who voted for my sweet tartan dress last week on project run & play! this week’s theme is boy week! yay!

poor boys, they get the short end of the stick in the sewing world. i think it’s just so hard to make boy clothes “special,” you know? it’s easy to draft a flouncier, twirlier, rufflier dress, or use a fantastic print for girls, but boys…it seems that the closer you can come to making them look like adult quality clothes, the better the result. so that was my goal here, for the most part. i wanted to make an outfit that would be very true to where my little guy is growing up (the outdoorsy, woodsy pacific northwest), but i also wanted it to be very comfortable and “finished looking.” though i did throw in a little fun too. gotta have a wink! here’s my sketch (i decided against the fargo hat):

i started with the pants. i used the basic pocket pants from “growing up sew liberated” as my base (what a great book that is – i’d been dying to dive into it). i downsized them from the smallest size given (2T) to 12-18 month size, slimmed the leg width, added a full flannel lining, lowered the front rise, changed the curved front pockets to slant, did a flat front waistband (with gathered elastic back), added button loops, faux back pockets, and did lots of topstitching to mimic a fly and flat felled seams. phew! it took a while!! i needed to use a montage on my PR&P post, but here are a couple better photos of the details…

i knew i wanted to leave the pants long enough to cuff them up to show the lining. oh man, i’m so jealous of him wearing these! the lining really is like wearing pajamas, it’s some of the softest flannel i’ve ever felt. i like the “traditional” red and black lumberjack plaid, too (this is the last of the plaid! i realize i did it last week too but i just couldn’t resist).

for his sweater, i’m a big fan of the shawl collar. i love it on men, and i thought it’d be really cute on a 13 month old boy. i washed and dried my husband’s old sweater to felt it, and it sewed up just fine! it’s 100% merino wool. i kept the existing hems on the sweater, and drafted my own pattern. it was fun figuring out how to make the shawl collar, though. the shape is a big football, pretty much, then it’s folded in half and the raw edge is attached, overlapping the ends. the leather button helps keep it down. i also appliquéd little oval microsuede elbow patches to the sweater (find my elbow patch tutorial for elsie marley here).

after that, i had a good basic outfit but i thought it needed a little something extra. so to complete the look, i made a flannel scarf (it’s a big rectangle that i sewed together and turned, topstitched, then added a big buttonhole in one side to pass the other end through), and a little felt coffee cup! i contemplated many felt portland-y accessories (a hatchet? log? fixie bike?) but figured that with all the coffee i drink to keep myself going after late sewing nights, a coffee cup was the most appropriate and recognizable. however, he didn’t want much to do with it! he kept throwing it. he must prefer stumptown coffee to starbucks…

so here’s the part where you go vote, if you haven’t yet. if you like my Tiny Timber boy look and want to see more from me, head over to project run & play to vote here! the voting was really tight last week, so every last one counts. thanks so much!!

that’s right, he’s pointing at YOU! go vote! 🙂

**Voting is now closed**

PR&P week 1: sweet tartan junebug remix

here we go – the new season of project run and play is underway! i’ve been so nervous not having any idea what the other designers’ looks are (that’s the project runway advantage – they can see what others are making and have an idea of where they stand…well that and they have tim gunn to guide them, of course!). but i think i’ve been true to my aesthetic, stretched a bit, and i’m really excited about my dress!

here’s a little more about my “sweet tartan” junebug remix…

i’ve been wanting to try the junebug pattern for a while, so i was pumped that it was the remix challenge this season.  it’s a different method of thinking to truly remix a pattern rather than just tweaking a detail here or there like i normally do.  i wanted to keep enough of the original dress to remain identifiable, while still making it my own.  i sketched a few ideas, getting progressively farther away from the pattern itself though still not “remixed” enough for my likes. and then, a breakthrough!  switch the cute button bodice detail to the back! after that, and deciding that i wanted to use a plaid print, the rest sort of came. here’s my sketch – got pretty close, eh?

as i sketched, a little lightbulb went off – hadn’t i seen a wrap plaid dress before? didn’t sarah jessica parker wear one once? wasn’t it designed by alexander mcqueen? the answer to all three questions – yes!


so that was fun.  apparently i had some deep-seated inspiration from an instyle magazine that i read way back in 2006.  i went with it, obviously a lot more 3-year-old-friendly in cotton plaid and cream batiste. i chose the pink and yellow tartan because i thought Em would like it. she did! i tried to do a photoshoot at powell’s books, and the little squirt wouldn’t stop running and dancing!

except when she was sticking her tongue out at the camera…

normally, rampant dancing is a sign of a successful dress and something i’d be excited about, but in this case it was pretty frustrating, since i’m actually being JUDGED on this project. i took about 100 photos and didn’t get a good one of just her standing still showing the front of the dress! photoshoot number two was taken in Em’s bedroom with her best friend modeling. thankfully they’re the same size and she’s not used to these blog photoshoot dealies, so she was much calmer.  isn’t she sweet?  🙂

okay, guys, if you haven’t yet, head on over to project run and play and vote for your fave! you have until sunday evening.  my sweet tartan dress needs you! 🙂


**Voting is now closed**

UPDATE:  You can find my tutorial for this dress right here!  Happy sewing!