little boy’s tool belt

My family has been celebrating Christmas in July for several years since we’ve found it easier to get together in the summer than around the holidays. A few weeks ago I asked my aunt what my godchild Anthony would like for the occasion. She told me she’d been looking around for a tool belt small enough for him to wear (he just turned four) and hadn’t been able to find one, but could I make him one?

Sure, I said, not even knowing where to begin. The boyfriend and I did some research at Lowe’s and a few other stores, and when I finally got around to asking the internet I found this lovely tutorial on 2 Little Hooligans. There are several other ones out there, but many are just a version of a small waist apron with pockets. This one actually looked like the real thing.

The tutorial was pretty good once I figured it out. You do need velcro even though it isn’t listed in the materials at the beginning. At first I was confused about how you only need to cut two pieces for each pocket yet they are lined. (You fold the pieces in half, and one is the lining and one is the outside. It was late when I was cutting.) I used my rotary cutter for the first time since I’ve had the ruler, mat and cutter and loved it. Such straight lines! and it sliced right through that canvas.

I already had a remnant of this thick blue canvas that worked perfectly for this project. I was going to use a thrifted belt, but couldn’t find a wide enough buckle at my local store. They only had 1″ buckles, so I bought a piece of 1″ cotton webbing instead of cutting a belt piece from my limited fabric. Without the fabric belt piece, my 60″ wide, 3/8 yard remnant was more than enough fabric to make this project.

If you aren’t making a belt, you will need to cut two pieces for the second loop and adjust your measurements to make the belt 6″ shorter. I also had to adjust the way the slider fit since my belt was thinner. The pockets slide off over the buckle if you want to change the belt or add another pocket. I’m not sure if they would be as easily moved/removed if the belt was 1 1/2″ instead of just 1″.

single pocket with thicket hammer/screwdriver loop

The only difficult part of this project was working with thicker fabric and making small pieces. There was some definite wiggling to get some of the seams to the needle, but I was able to do it all on the machine.

double pocket with thinner loop

Anthony doesn’t have any tools to go in it yet since I got him a few other things for Christmas/his birthday, but hopefully he will like it. For as long as I put this project off, it was really easy once I found a good tutorial. Last week I wasn’t sure if I’d even try to make a belt in time, but now it is done and in my suitcase.


recovered stationary box

Our story begins with a cat who likes to chew on boxes. I bought some cards on clearance at T. J. Maxx and after deciding I wasn’t very fond of them and should return them, I realized the box was chewed on by one orange fuzzy cat.

So I kept the box and have since sent out all the cards. Instead of buying new ones, I decided to put the small stamp collection and tons of sheets of paper I’ve acquired from my mom and her friends to use and make some new cards. I’ve only made a few very basic ones so far, but I wanted a box to put them in so I can just pull one out when I need it. Most of my cards are sent along with homemade gifts, so why not handmake the cards as well?

Anyway, the boyfriend came up with the idea of how to cover this card box in paper. I took a 12×12 sheet of paper and traced the body of the box out on it with some extra length and width for overlap. First I traced the full front to back of the box, then the sides, and then I cut out the corners so I could fold everything up around the box.

This is with the front part already folded up.

I just used a glue stick to attach the paper. It’s a little like wrapping a present.

I cut the paper to fit around the pre-existing tab of the box so it could still be opened and closed easily.

And I left the edges small so you can still see the previous design on the inside of the box.

It’s an easy way to take a throwaway box and turn it into something useful for everyday. I’m thinking about doing a similar thing to old Christmas card boxes.

shirred toddler dress from skirt

I picked up this skirt at a rummage sale months ago. It sat with my other clothes for some time, but when I brought it out for spring I realized it wasn’t really something I would wear. But I did love the colorful embroidery on it.

And then I came across this tutorial and realized the skirt would make a perfect toddler dress. Even after I knew what I wanted to do with the skirt, it still sat around for a few more months until last weekend. Our big family get-together is coming up this weekend, and I wanted to have this project ready to give to my aunt and my little cousin Emma (who is walking now) in person. The dress came together so quickly, despite the shirring I’d feared.

non-problematic shirring!

The width of the embroidered part of the skirt (the outer front layer; it was lined) was wide enough to make the dress. I cut the front embroidered piece and the outer back off of the skirt since the material was so thin that it needed two layers.

I liked the serged edges, especially since I don’t have a serger and can’t do it myself, so I kept the edges raw on the top and bottom. I sewed each layer closed separately and hid the seams inside, then pinned them carefully together before I started shirring.

I considered solid straps instead of ties, but the last thing I made for Emma (see photo and post) was a little tight around the arms, so the ties will allow this dress to grow with her as she springs up like a weed.

I made the ties like I would make double fold bias tape and topstitched so I wouldn’t have to turn a tiny tube.

Instead of the shirring the way it is done in the tutorial, I just sewed around in a spiral with the elastic thread following in this tutorial for a shirred skirt that I’ve made before.

back view

The ties are attached on the outside of the back to hide a spot on this pre-loved skirt. Fingers crossed that it fits!

I’m so happy with the way the bright colors stand out on the white in this dress. I can’t wait to see all my family this weekend!

not-so-tiny pocket tank

Here’s another button-down shirt refashion using the tiny pocket tank pattern. I wanted a funky print, and I found it in this thrifted button-down shirt. It was a serious funky shirt, and I should have taken a before picture. Despite it being a women’s shirt, it looked more like a men’s shirt. There were two pockets on the front, the cut was very boxy and it had chunky navy buttons. In spite of this, the curved hem went up several inches on the sides in a definite feminine touch.

To get started, I cut the shirt apart (I’ve realized that 1/4-1/2″ of fabric isn’t worth the trouble of ripping) but I kept the hem on the bottom. I removed the pockets and used the front as the back, replacing the buttons with the mother-of-pearl like buttons from my other tiny pocket remake.

Here’s a hint: if only one of your darts looks good and the other dart is a bit funky at the point, just put your pocket over that dart! As long as it’s just a small issue, it will cover it right up.

The pocket is from the original shirt, and a little hard to see, but it’s right there.

Since this version didn’t have a lining I did use the bias binding. I just bought some navy fabric long enough to accomodate the piece on the diagonal. (I measured it out on a scrap piece of fabric first.) The binding worked out pretty darn well for me, and it looks so nice and finished.

Since I’d taken a couple inches out of the straps, I wasn’t sure if the binding would fit. I left the back able to be buttoned up so I had the extra part of the placket to cover as well. It fit exactly, so I’m not sure how that worked out. I sewed a snap at the top corner of the placket after attaching the bias binding so it would lie flat, and voila! A new summer top.

I don’t think I’ve cut one of these tanks out as wide as they were supposed to be since there’s been limited fabric in cutting the shirts. I might be trying this again soon, maybe with the scout tee pattern, since I picked up four funky men’s button downs for a buck a pop at a yard sale a couple weeks ago. I’m not sure how the lack of darts will work on that pattern, but I’ve still got new fabric and patterns for three more fitted blouses ready to be cut out and sewn up.

in need of some finishing touches

It feels like all my posts lately have the word “simple” in them somewhere. I guess that’s because those are the projects that are getting done.

I do have a few works in progress that aren’t simple, and are therefore not completed. Here’s a list:

– I found a vintage dress pattern in my size (!!) at the thrift store with all the pieces, some uncut even. You can see the pattern here on Ebay. I was all set to make the dress for Vintage May, but May went by pretty quickly. I’ve cut out the fabric (a thrifted vintage floral sheet), but I still need to cut out the lining and mark the patterns. I’m pretty sure this 1970s era pattern has WAY more markings than today’s patterns. I need to print out this single fold bias tape maker so I can make my own for the dress and find some buttons for the front in my stash.

– I whipped up a square top a couple weekends ago, but still need to hem it and figure out how to do the side vents. I also need to and make some bias tape for the sleeves and neckline. Yes, I’m actually going to make my own bias tape this time. That’s the whole reason I bought my rotary cutter, self-healing mat and ruler (unused as of yet).

– Since my Hobby Lobby fabrics go together, I figured I’d take the leftovers and make a quilt. I cut as many rectangles as I could out of each of the six fabrics and sewed them into vertical strips, but I still need to even up the rectangles (I cut them out on the fly) and match the seams. I’ll need to buy border and backing fabric, and make sure I have the right batting to fullfil the requirements for the Quilts for Kids project (my latest charity endeavor). I’ll also need to wash it thoroughly as the cats have taken to pouncing on the pieces…

Here’s the block layout the boyfriend helped me devise.

– I still need to start working on a tool belt for my godchild for our family’s Christmas in July party. I have a rummage sale skirt I want to shirr into a dress for Emma using this tutorial that I’d really like to have done by then as well.

– I needed a little bit of a break from going full-speed on sewing so I started crochet a fan afghan for my mom to go in a sitting room they redid last year. She bought the yarn to go with the room and sent it to me, but I can’t wait until I can send the finished product to her. Right now I’ve only got two of the 59 full motifs and 12 half-motifs I need completed, but it’s giving me an excuse to sit and watch Mad Men while I work.

And I have a couple of blouse patterns and fabric pairings that I need to get working on as well as numbers of other things on the massive “to-do” (eventually) list. I could really use some summery blouses so those should move to the top of my list, but I’ve been putting them off. Hopefully my sewing mojo will return soon and I’ll be back to cranking out projects. But this weekend, I’m headed out to town to relax.

denim shirt

So here’s another item I’ve made recently that I have mixed feelings about. I have to be okay with it though, because it was this test hack that led me to using the tiny pocket tank pattern and getting much better results. This was a short-sleeve button down denim 80s looking shirt that I hacked into a tank.

I cut off the sleeves and neck and turned the edges under, flipped the buttons around to the back and added darts in the front, added an extra piece of fabric under each arm to fix a low armhole and replaced the buttons. I kept the original hem.

The hem makes it look kind of like a crop top. I really liked the buttons that I’d found at a yard sale awhile back.

I’m not sure about wearing it. Sometimes I like it when I throw it on, other times I’m not a fan. I definitely like the other tanks I’ve made since better, so this shirt might be moving on instead of taking up valuable closet space.

Update: Here’s a close-up of the buttons. I wore the tank kayaking last weekend and it was very comfortable. I didn’t worry about messing it up and it didn’t cling to me like a knit does. It looks like this will be a keeper.

pink knit maxi skirt

This maxi skirt, made from this tutorial, was a breeze to make. It was not, however, a breeze to cut. I ended up with a slightly above the ankle-length skirt and I had to take a piece off of one side after I realized the two sides I cut were not even. Then I had to still lop another piece off the hem since it still wasn’t even.

The fabric is super comfy as is the skirt, even if the upper leg area ended up a bit on the tight side. I’ll wear it for sure, and maybe mess with the hem, and maybe not look at myself in the mirror… Actually, I would probably wear this with a longer shirt and that might help. I just wanted the top of the skirt to be visible for the photos.

With the waistband as wide as it is, it can also be pulled up and worn as a dress. I used a double needle to sew the hem and it was pretty great. I also topstitched the waistband to the bottom of the skirt so it wouldn’t roll up. I’ve loved this fabric for so long, and hopefully this skirt will grow on me because I really want to like it, but I’m not feeling it in these photos so much.