Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cheater, Cheater PLACKET and BUTTONHOLE beater! A BG Luna Hack.

Do you remember that song from childhood?

Cheater, cheater pumpkin eater.
Had a wife but couldn't keep her, 
put her in a pumpkin shell
and there he kept her very well?

I can still see myself sitting at my grandmother's piano "playing" that song. It isn't a highly skillful song, one that you can do with one index finger. Being a piano teacher, I am sure that one index finger drove my grandmother almost as crazy as the repeat "cheater, cheater" all day long, but somehow she had the patience of a saint when it came to me and so she just ignored it all-together. ;) Speaking of my grandmother, I can almost hear her "tisk-tisking" as I sit down to write a blog about a hack that eliminates a skirt placket and buttonhole on a child's dress. 

But, in my defense...times change, and as they do, sewing methods sometimes do as well. While I agree that there is beauty in a skirt placket and a functioning buttonhole, I can also be completely honest and say that us moms have a lot on our plates. And if there is something we can do that can cut a few steps off a a pattern when sewing for our kids, let's go for it. Don't get me wrong, I do like the old-school methods of sewing and honestly prefer them (I mean, there is a method to the madness of them being around for so long), but if you can fit it over your kiddo's head without the need for the extra be it. Your secret is totally safe with me! But, with that said, I find it is imperative that you know how to do the methods you cheat around because they prove so important and useful in sewing. Since my child has a large head, I do a looooooooot of placketing. Obviously that large head houses a large personality too. :)

I spy a little Reese Whitherspoon in that last one. And I mean that in a good way, I love her.

So, here goes. I will show you how to eliminate the skirt placket and functioning buttonhole from your Luna dress (which you have all bought like crazy, gosh I love you!!!). With this method, the yoke seam is no longer hidden...but again, your secret is safe with me. You may notice I am working on the same fabric as I am in the actual pattern. Louisa loved the chartreuse and navy dress I made her with the angel sleeves, so I made one with 3/4 length sleeves as well for a photoshoot. In the days of athletic shorts and t-shirts, I almost jumped at the chance!

This tutorial will coincide with the actual pattern tutorial. So, I will reference methods from time to time in the pattern. First things first. You must make sure that you can fit the Luna over your kiddo's head without the need for the functioning button and placket FIRST. So I suggest to make a muslin of the yoke. Since you want to test the opening of the neck, cut 2 front pieces on the fold and use one of the front pieces as the back. This will give you an idea of how it does without the opening. 

If you get the green light, follow me! 

Cut your Luna yoke just as you would in the pattern and sew the shoulder seams on both the outer and lining as you do on page 9 of the pattern. Press your seams. Now place the outer yoke and lining right sides together matching up the shoulder seams and pin in place. Here, you will sew along the black lines as shown below. As you can see, the only difference form the pattern is how you will sew down the back sides as well this time. 

Once sewn, clip the corners and edges as shown below with the white lines. 

Then take your yoke over to the ironing board and press it out. Take your time here because the yoke really is a stand-out piece!

Once pressed, you can top-stitch along the insides of your yoke as shown below with the black lines.

Now, lay your yoke on a flat surface with the right sides facing up. You are going to overlap the back pieces by 3/4". Since you do not have a placket, it doesn't matter which side overlaps the other. I generally pick which side looks the best. ;)

Once overlapped, pin in place and run a basting stitch along the bottom as shown below in black. This will hold your bodice together. 

Side note: if you want a little more room in the Luna, decrease the amount you overlap.

Now set the yoke aside for just a bit and grab your skirt pieces. You will not be cutting down the center of the back piece like you do in the pattern since you don't have a placket. Run a gathering stitch along the top of both the front and back pieces. Good grief, Amy learn to iron first!!

Now, pull the gathers in on one of the skirt panels to match the bottom of the yoke front. UNLIKE the pattern, you will be attaching the skirt piece to both the yoke outer AND lining. 

Once you have the gathers distributed, place the skirt panel right sides together with the yoke making sure the raw edge of the skirt aligns with the raw edges of the yoke outer and lining. Pin in place and sew along the bottom as shown below with the white dotted line. Finish this seam however you please and then repeat with the back skirt panel and back yoke. 

Once you have the skirt panels attached, head over to the ironing board and press the seam up towards the yoke.

If you are going to top-stitch, now is the time. Just as I said in the pattern, I don't like to top-stitch over my trim so I decided against it here. However, if you are going to top-stitch, run your stitch along the seam as shown below in black.

Now, flip your yoke over so that the back is facing up and place your button on the overlap as shown below. Sew the button in place, and guess what are now ready to tackle the rest of the pattern! For View A, start at the bottom of page 18 and for View B, page 26. Make sure to ignore any talk in the rest of the pattern about keeping the lining out of the way and then enclosing the skirt seam.

How's that for a quick hack? The best part about this method is that you can use it with so many patterns, AS LONG as your child can get it on and off without the need of buttons or a placket. 

Again, ladies you have rocked the Luna debut and since I am uber-disorganized right now, I forgot to change the price of the Luna last night in the etsy shop - so take advantage of my disorganization and shop with a discounted promo price for one more day!

Thank you again for your continued support and overall awesomeness. I will be disappearing for the next few days since I have yet to swap over mine or my kid's closets for the season change. Thankfully we live in the bi-polar South so we've been managing for the last few weeks...but I am pretty sure it isn't acceptable for me to wear the same shirt 4 days in a row. Whoops. 

Xoxo - Amy

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Lottie Skirt - with big pockets and an elastic back (A tutorial)

Happy, happy Friday everyone. I hope you have all had a great week and hopefully  you have been able to take advantage of my LUCKY 7 week and get some patterns on sale. If not, my patterns will stay reduced to $7 through the weekend and be back to regular price next week.

I hope you have also had a great time seeing all the sneak pictures of the Luna dress. Good gravy, I love this pattern. I am going to spend the weekend finishing up some last minute things with the pattern and have it live and in the shop come Monday! Just as Jimmy Buffett says...Come Monday, it will be alright! Speaking of things being alright, how about if I told you there were two amazing giveaways going on for the Luna AND some Art Gallery fabric??!! Check out both of these blogs and enter the giveaways for your chance to win!!

Earlier this week I promised you a tutorial on how to add big pockets to your Lottie skirts and also make it with an elastic waistband (just in the back so the front still has that polished flat look).

 I had hoped to blog before Friday, but we all know how life is. This seems to be wild time of year for me as I am trying to tie up all of the loose ends with BG before the holidays begin. So, needless to it is Friday morning and I am just now getting back to you with the Lottie tutorial!

This tutorial will show you how to make some changes to the Lottie skirt pattern. Since the pattern is very detailed, I won't go into many details here but instead will reference the pattern. 

First things first, let's start with the waistband. Since there will be no closure in the back, cut 2 of the front waistbands. There are patterns pieces, or dimensions for those that would rather in the back of the pattern (starting on page 45). I am making a size 5, so I am cutting 2 pieces of fabric that are 5.5 x 11.75.

Once cut, place the 2 pieces right sides together and sew along the sides as shown below with the dotted lines. Take the waistband over to the ironing board and press those 2 seams out. 

Now, fold the waistband over on itself with right sides facing. Run a stitch along the top of the waistband (the folded edge) as shown below. This is exactly like you do on page 10 of the pattern, with the only exception being that this waistband is tubular since it is joined on both side. And because the Ninja Turtles think it is cool. Totally tubular. 

Once stitched, flip the waistband right sides out and then head over to the ironing board and press the top seam that you just stitched flat. While at the ironing board, go ahead and flip up a 3/8" hem along the bottom of one side of the waistband as shown below. This will be the lining side and will help us to enclose the skirt seam later on. 

Once that hem is pressed, set your waistband to the side. Now on to the skirt panel. I have only done this particular skirt with the elastic back with the gathered skirt. Personally I cannot ever seem to get my pleats to look right when I use an elastic waist, so I don't even go there. But, you can certainly try it out if you like! For this tutorial purpose, we will be focusing on the gathered skirt. On the pattern page 6 you will find the cutting chart for the gathered skirt of the Lottie. For this look, you want to cut 2 front skirt panels. Again, I am doing a size 5, so I will cut 2 panels that are 14 3/8" x 23 1/2". Once cut, place right sides together and sew up along the side seams as shown below in the black dotted lines. Finish those seams and then press. Alternatively you can also do these with french seams and then the entire skirt will have beautiful finished, hidden seams. :) Sometimes the insides of a garment make me just as happy as the outside!

Once your side seams are sewn, go ahead and hem the bottom of the skirt. I find it easier to go ahead and hem it now. Follow the directions to hem just as you would in the pattern starting on page 41.

For the pocket, there is no right or wrong here. Louisa wanted a skirt with a big pocket. She saw on in a catalog this summer (possibly Mini Boden???) and has been talking about it ever since. So, Momma wanted to deliver! Place your skirt panel on a flat surface where one of the side seams is facing up. This is where you will need your best eye-balling skills. Again, no right or wrong here, but let me tell you what I do. I like to make a large, rectangular pocket that sits off-center of the side seam. This basically just means I want more pocket to the front of the skirt than I do to the back. Below in turquoise I sketched how I eye-balled the pocket. Remember that you will have a 3/8" seam at the top of the skirt. For this skirt, I ended up making a sketch that had a width (W) of 8 by a height (H) of 8. 

Now, for some math. I mean, it wouldn't be a BG tutorial without math now would it? :) So the pocket sketch you made will be for the finished measurements of the pockets. But, you need to know how to cut them. So, I have some formulas for you. 

For the width (W), you want to do: W + 1. Easy enough, right:
For the height (H), you want: H + 2.5.

So, in my example for a finished pocket with W of 6 and H of 8, I will cut TWO pockets that are 7" by 10.5". 
W: 6 + 1 = 7
H: 8 + 2.5 = 10.5

Once your math is done and your pockets are cut, finish the 2 sides and the bottom of the pockets however you please. Then, head to the iron and press to the wrong sides a .5" hem along the bottom and sides as shown below in black. For the top, press down a 1" hem (turquoise line below) and then another 1" (darker turquoise) for a finished hem. 

Once pressed, top-stitch along the top hem as shown below in black.

Now for the fun part...placing the pockets! If you are lucky, your skirt panel is still laid out flat on a flat surface. If you are me, your kids are home from school for the day and have taken over your sewing room while you are working...

With your skirt panel on a flat surface with one of the side seams facing up, place the pocket on the panel how you would like it. Again, this is not rocket science at all but I like to place mine off-center so more of the pocket is towards the front. There is no sense in having a great, big awesome pocket if her hands cannot reach it, right?? Once you are happy with placement, pin in place and then repeat with the other pocket. Make sure both pockets are symmetric!

Once they are pinned, head over to your machine and stitch the pockets in place as shown below in black. I like to do a triangle stitch at the top of each pocket to reinforce that seam since it will see a lot of wear and tear with hands going in and out of the pocket.

Once your pockets are sewn in place, run a gathering stitch across the top of the skirt. On page 28 of the pattern, I show how to do this and this tutorial is similar, but you will only have 2 stitches, one across the top front and one across the top back.

Continuing on via the pattern, match up your skirt side seams with the waistband side seams and pull your gathers in to match the waistband. Pin in place and take to the machine and stitch the skirt to the  raw edge of the waistband. Remember how we pressed up the hem of one side of the waistband earlier? Make sure that is not included in this stitch! Once you have your skirt stitched to the waistband, finish that seam. It will be enclosed but finishing helps to reduce the bulk.

Now, take to the iron and press the seam up towards the waistband as shown below by the yellow arrow. This is always a fun step to me. There is just something about seeing a gathered fabric pressed against a non-gathered spot. Oh it makes me happy!

Staying at the ironing board, flip your skirt over and then press the other side of the waistband (the side you pressed a hem earlier) over to cover the skirt seam. Press all the way around the skirt as shown below. See how awesome it looks when it covers the seam?

Now, take your skirt to the machine and top-stitch around the top of the entire waistband as shown below. This will help create the casing for our elastic. You see this machine? This is Louisa's sewing machine. My faithful Brother that lasted me 5 years longer than it should went caput on me and so thankfully I had Lou's to get me through some garments. Phew!

Now, you can either use Wonder-Tape or pins, but you want to secure the waistband over the skirt seam in the front. ONLY THE FRONT for right now. Since it is only the front, I usually will just use pins. Then, take to your machine and top-stitch along the skirt seam on the front ONLY as shown below. This helps to enclose that skirt seam.

This is what it will look like on the inside of the front of the skirt after you have sewn it down. 

Now, for the elastic. More math, but again...I have a formula for you! To determine the amount of elastic you will need, use this formula:
(waist measurement / 2) - 3

For my example, Louisa's waist was 22. So, I cut a piece of elastic that was 8" long since (22/2)-3 is 8. (I will add I found it to fit just a bit snug on next time I may only subtract 2, but then again I was using an elastic that was very tight...just a little side note.)

For the size of elastic to use, I recommend using the widest you can for the casing. In my case, I used a 1.5" wide elastic. I probably would have been fine with just 1" since it was a bit difficult to pull through, but it was all I had on hand so I made it work!

Now, with your piece of elastic, you want to feed it into the waistband back as shown below. 

Pull it around to one of the side seams. Pin in place with aabout 1/4' of the elastic to the front of the side seam. This is shown below with the elastic in green. In the photo below, the skirt front is to the right.

Now, to secure the elastic, stitch in the ditch (meaning run a stitch on the side seam of the waistband). This is shown below from the RIGHT side of the skirt in black. I am sorry I realized just now that it may be confusing with the front of the skirt on the right in the photo above and below it is to the left, but hopefully you catch my drift with the green area posing as the elastic.

Once that side is secured, do the same with the other side of the elastic and the opposite waistband side seam. Once your elastic is secured in both places, you want to sew the back of the skirt along the skirt seam. I find this is easiest to do on the machine while pulling the elastic taught and sewing along the seam.

Guess what ladies? You now have an adorable Lottie with big-ole pockets and an elastic-back waistband! I cannot wait to see your pictures! Make sure to upload them in the brownie-goose lovers group on Facebook!

And don't forget, go enter those two giveaways and have a fantastic weekend. Get some rest for the LUNA release on Monday!!

Xoxo - Amy

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Riley Blake Blog Tour: Featuring Lulabelle by Dodi Lee Poulsen

This summer I was in Southern California celebrating the 10 year anniversary with my best bud, supporter, cheerleader, encourager and overall level-headed copilot in our life journey. I was sitting by the pool sipping on a pool drink (while Byron was sitting in a conference learning about otolaryngology and allergy and immunology hoopla, see what I mean about being level-headed?) when I got an email asking to be part of a blog tour. Hook, line and sinker to the girl with the pineapple in her drink! I clicked a link to view the fabric line, but must admit I already knew I was a total yes from the start. I mean, how often can you say no to fabric? Especially when it comes from Riley Blake and dons the name Lulabelle? Well, I cannot admit how long it took me to decide which fabrics I wanted to use. I went back and forth for quite some time and then realized that honestly, I couldn't go wrong with any of them!

I finally decided on Main in cream, Bowtie in navy, Scallops in navy and Petal in mint. Can you tell I have a navy obsession? But honestly, I have to admit I was the most excited about the lavenders in this fabric line. I feel that purples, lilacs, lavenders, etc. are overlooked in the world of fabrics. I feel I am always searching for them, but coming up empty-handed. So, when I saw that Dodi incorporated them with navy and mint, well...I almost ordered another umbrella drink. ;)

Fast forward a few months when the sweet FedEx lady dropped off my fabric. Is there a better feeling than getting fabric in the mail? For girls like us, not really! So I immediately opened the package and fell in love. And then realized what I had immediately planned for the fabric wouldn't do it justice so it was back the drawing board for me while the fabrics went to the wash.

Ladies...let me tell you something. These fabrics came out of the laundry so very soft. And I must confess, I actually forgot about them in the dryer and didn't remove them immediately like I try to do with all fabric. So, they sat in the dryer for probably a few hours and I cannot even begin to tell you my delight in taking them out. Y'all, the wrinkles were an all-time minimum. I was so impressed. So, I headed to my sewing room with super soft, buttery fabric that I didn't need to spend hours pressing! That in itself had me loving Lulabelle and Riley Blake even more!! 

And I created. And I fell in love. 

And guess what? So did Louisa. Which all you moms of older girls out there know is something that doesn't always happen! She actually asked if we could do a photo shoot. And even though it was raining for the 3rd day in a row, I didn't skip a beat. I told her to grab her rain boots and let's go! And we did. You see, she fell in love with this Lottie skirt made from the Scallops in navy as much as I did.

She's really into skirts these days, and while she has a closet of Lotties - she said she likes this one the most. I think it has to do with these big, huge pockets I added in the Petal in mint on the sides. I was tickled pink at how well the colors went together!

And wait a that an elastic back? Why it sure is. And she said she loved that too because it was easy to get on and off. PS - she looks so much like my grandmother (the one that taught me a LOT about sewing) in the picture above that I can't help but tear up a little!

So, just because I love my geese...I will be posting a tutorial this week on how to make your Lottie skirts with huge pockets and an elastic back. Lucy the labrador enjoys the skirt too. She's thinking how easy it would be to hide a chipmunk in those pockets!

I cannot get over my love for this skirt. I think I may have to get more of that fabric. It could be my sewing skirt. Think of all the goodies I could fit in those pockets!

And while I am gushing about my love of the skirt and navy and scallops and mint colors...let me also tell you about my love for this dress. Oh my word. I only thought I couldn't top the skirt.

Louisa adores this dress. And that makes me happier than a bird with a french fry. Speaking of birds, do you see the sweet birds and houses on the Main in cream? The details on this print really are fantastic and Dodi did a great job of using the details as an opportunity to introduce all of these beautiful colors that tie this fabric line in together so well!

The bodice of this dress is a combination of 3 different brownie-goose patterns. Do you ever have those days when you want the sleeves from one dress, the neck from another and the fit from a different one too? I do...all the time. So, for this dress I used the Lennon bodice, the Cricket neckline and the sleeve from my newest, the Luna (I cannot wait to publish this one!!). I snapped some pictures to do a mini-tutorial below on how you can do the same thing! And Louisa has been crushing over the bubble skirts on all of the beautiful Violette Field Thread Genevieve dresses I've shown her lately. So, I thought this dainty print was perfect for a bubble skirt!

I did the back like a Lazy Susan because I had 3 buttons that matched the mint of the skirt in my stash that were screaming to be paired with the navy and lavender of the bodice fabric! I think they paired great!

This picture was right when she said, "Mommy I really love this dress. It makes me feel so girly!" She also said something along the lines that she was glad it wasn't mustard and had a print to it. Haha, she knows my love of yellows and solids. So, I am so grateful for this fabric line to get me out of my solids slump!! Thanks Dodi!!

Now, most photo shoots with Louisa are pretty painful. However, thankfully she was feeling all "girly" and fun in this one because it got humorous. First of all, I let her chew gum. She's pretty proud of her bubble-blowing skills. She told me she had to because her bubble gum coordinated with her bubble skirt. ;)

Well, that was the last "serious fun" photo. What happened next made for some really fun pictures. My photo shoot assistant (my 4 year old Nash) is almost always "behind the scenes" at all shoots. He usually is photo-shopped out of pictures because he likes to get in the way and be just like Louisa. Well, this time he actually was behind the scenes...and in true little boy fashion he decided to toot. And then it all went downhill from you can see.

At least she looked girly and pretty in her Lulabelle dress. Because this girl got the giggles over some broken wind. And that was a wrap. ;)

So, thank you, thank you, thank you Dodi Lee Poulson for thinking of me for this tour. This was really the most fun (obviously) and I had a great time playing with the fabrics of your new line. They are beautiful, so soft and a dream to sew. Not to mention they come out of the dryer beautifully!

Now, for those of you waiting to get your hands on some Lulabelle for yourself, check out this giveaway!

Don’t miss out on the great give-away that Dodi is offering this week. Simply go to and leave a comment to win Lulabelle Fat Quarters and/or check out Lulabelle on Instagram @sashgal to win 5, ½ yard pieces of Lulabelle. (Rules for the Instagram contest will be posted there.)  Contests will end at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday the 14th with Riley Blake doing a wrap up for the tour! Winners will be chosen after the close of the tours. Best of luck!

Don't miss your chance to have your own Lulabelle to make some pretties!

And now, for those of you interested in meshing some patterns to get your own look. For the dress featured above, I started with the Lennon dress bodice, as shown below in gray. I use tracing paper here so that you can place it over a pattern and be able to trace over lines.

Then, I placed the Cricket dress below my tracing paper, making sure to match the fold lines and traced along the neckline, as shown below in orange. 

Next, I pulled out my Luna pattern (you can get yours soon, I promise!) and lined up the shoulder seams and bottom of the armscye and then traced as shown below in blue. There is no fold line on the Luna due to the nature of princess seams and a yoke, so this was the best option.

Finally, I traced along the Cricket neckline, along the Cricket shoulder to the Luna armscye, down along the armscye and down the sides and bottom of the Lennon. And voila. You see, with some tracing paper and some patience, you too can create your own mash up!

Thanks for stopping by ladies, and I hope you get some inspiration for Lulabelle. The next stop is at Tiny Seamstress. Make sure to stop by her blog tomorrow!!

xoxo - Amy