DIY: Leather Cord Charm Bracelet

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Another year has flown by with 2018 looming just over the last page of our dogeared  calendar; and I was just getting used to writing 2017 on all the kids’ school forms/permission slips.  The fam-bam and I packed so much in this year yet that feeling of regret over having lost another year, time we won’t ever get back, and all the to-do’s that never got “do-ed”, leaves me in disbelief at how time really does, literally, fly.  But just like I get a fresh, new slate daily, it’s time for my annual fresh, new slate.  Yeah, you shouldn’t wait for the new year to set and evaluate your goals and progress, but the new year is always a perfect time to do just that.  So, yes.  I’m saying a triumphant ‘goodbye’ to 2017 and I am ready to receive 2018 with open arms.  But first, let me get through this Christmas rush while I try to reverence the true meaning of the season with my little ones amidst all this commercialism.  And since Christmas and gift-giving go hand-in-hand, here’s a little DIY tutorial for a shiny, little something to put under your Christmas tree.

I work with a church youth group of girls ages 12-17 yrs and every year the leaders put together a little birthday gift for the girls and drop it off for them on their birthday.  So while brainstorming gifts, I stumbled across an image of a leather cord bracelet with gold tubing that would be perfect but way out of our budget to purchase.  Plus, we wanted to incorporate the new year’s youth theme into the gift as well.  After doing some research, (hrs upon hrs, ok not really) I figured out a way we could make the bracelets ourselves for about $3 each including a charm etched with our new theme!  I was pretty ecstatic because they are so cute and I know the girls will love it!  (One can hope)

I added links to places where I purchased the material, but I was buying in bulk so you may want to purchase smaller batches.

DIY Leather Cord Charm Bracelet w/ Gold Tube

Materials:

Tools:

  • scissors
  • jump-ring tool (I just used my fingers)
  • E6000 & Super glue (or Gel Superglue, Gel Gorilla glue)
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I guess gold comes in different hues… Luckily the charms and the gold tube matched while the end caps were a little more yellow, but I made it work.

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What you’ll need to make one complete bracelet. (plus the glue)

Instructions:

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  1. Cut desired length of leather cord. (My finished bracelet size is 7 inches.  Measure wrist for accuracy but that seemed to be a good size for most of the girls.  You want the length of your leather cord and the clasp to total your desired bracelet length)IMG_5121-1
  2. Thread the cut cord through the gold tube bead.IMG_5120-1
  3. Add the charm. (I had to switch the jump ring on my charm to an 8mm jump ring in order for it to fit over the gold tube)IMG_5122-1
  4. Add a dab of glue to each end of the leather cord and gently insert into the end cap clasp. (if using E6000, let dry few mins, then pull back out and add a dab of super glue.  E6000 by itself came out with a tug test) (If using gel super glue or gel gorilla glue, then just glue once and done)* Let it dry overnight.

*I had E6000 glue already from a past project and thought that would suffice when gluing on the end caps, but when I tested it with a tug the next day, it slipped out fairly easily.  So I added a dab of super glue (runny kind) and it held tight.  I decided to get gel gorilla glue and that by itself held well.  Use what glue works for you.

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SUPER EASY and SUPER CUTE!!!

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I hope you made one for yourself, too~

Thanks for reading-  Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (however you may celebrate)!

-Flora

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Birthday Wishes… Shopkins

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My little girl just had a birthday; and of course no birthday celebration is complete without a cake topped with birthday candles to wish on before they are extinguished in one (or a few) puffs, which concurrently blankets the cake with tiny droplets of birthday girl germs.  But we digress… let them eat cake.  Germs are everywhere.  Besides, this cake is bulletproof!  It’s covered with homemade marshmallow fondant which no one likes to eat anyway.  I just peel mine right off and get to the good stuff: 4-layers of moist chocolate cake, devil’s frosting, and french vanilla frosting just under the peel, err… fondant.

I’m definitely not a fondant fan, but I must admit that certain cake requests (like this Shopkins cake) does require edible modeling clay to achieve that smooth, plastic look of a toy.  Most of my cakes are covered in buttercream or whipped cream, but I made an exception for this one since I didn’t think tinted buttercream would look as nice as fondant would.

My little princess got 2 birthday parties!  One on her actual birthday with family, including grandma who was in town, and her second party with a little group of friends at our humble home for a night of pizza, “Snow White” the movie, popcorn, and cake, followed by a spontaneous game of balloon war; organized chaos at it’s best!

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Of course I used Ina Garten’s Cheesecake recipe but without the jam, just topped with fresh raspberries.

So lucky mommy (yes, that’d be me) got to bake a cheesecake for her family party and this cute Shopkins cake for her party with her friends and I’m going to share my Shopkins cake construction process.

Little princess wanted a chocolate cake, so little princess got a chocolate cake for her special day.  I used Toba Garrett’s chocolate cake recipe from her book “The Well-decorated Cake” and I promise it’s the BEST chocolate cake you will ever taste!  She claims it’s good to the last crumb, and believe me, it is!  For the filling, I made a HUGE mistake and accidentally  made chocolate icing!!!  Like the kind that you drizzle over desserts for the nice chocolate-spilling-over-the-edge look, and that doesn’t work for a cake filling unless you want a “Sleeping Beauty” type of cake look with all the layers sliding and frosting dripping and the whole cake leaning like the Tower of Pisa.  That’s why, my friends, we should stick to tried and true recipes when attempting a special cake for a special occasion.  Lesson learned.  SO, instead of dumping the chocolate icing, I just doctored it by adding more butter and powdered sugar and it was fixed!  Now, I had delicious devil’s chocolate icing buttercream that was perfect layered with the chocolate cake.

After that detour, I decided I didn’t want to risk the dark brown color of chocolate frosting possibly showing through the light yellow fondant so whipped up a batch of our favorite vanilla frosting, which is also found in Toba Garrett’s book (see above link) called French Vanilla Buttercream.  This buttercream tastes like vanilla ice cream and has a texture that’s lighter and in between a buttercream and whipped cream.  Definitely one of my go-to recipes and have used it in many of my past cakes.

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I made 2 batches of marshmallow fondant and colored one batch yellow then left a larger part of the 2nd batch white and colored some pink and a little black.

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I wanted a taller, cake but I didn’t want to bake a 3rd cake, so I cheated and used my inverted cake pan as my 3rd cake layer to give the cake more height.

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I was in a rush and wasn’t careful removing my 2nd cake from the pan and it broke in several places!

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see how much of the outside broke off?!?!

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But it’s okay!  Just take those broken cake crumbs and mix it with your frosting and now you have chocolate cement to fill in the cracks.  (This is also how you can make cake pops.  crumble cake, mix in frosting, shape, and stick onto sticks)

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Whew, there. Now the cake is good as new 😉

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I split my 2 cakes in half so I got 4 layers.  Put some frosting on my “fake” cake layer then stack cake, frost, stack cake, frost… you get the picture.  I purposely left the top layer rounded since I wanted to keep the rounded look for the Shopkins Wishes cake.  Refrigerate your stacked cake for about 30 mins so it’s easier to cover with frosting and doesn’t shift.

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Smooth on your vanilla buttercream frosting with an offset spatula and refrigerate again while you work on rolling out some fondant. Notice how I frosted my cake pan, the bottom layer of my “cake”.

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After you work your fondant with your hands to get it pliable again, roll it out as big as you can.  I wasn’t able to get it big enough to drape over the entire cake, so I just cut out two 6″ strips (height of the side of cake) and stuck it on.  Get a wet paper towel and run it over your fondant so it will stick to the cake. (dampen only the side that will be touching the cake)

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Carefully smooth it out with your hands or a fondant smoother tool.

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I used two strips to cover the sides of the cake. (you can see the small seam on the left)  It’s okay, I’m going to add the arms there later.

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Roll our your white fondant, then use an 8″ cake base (cheese board from Dollar tree) as a guide to cut out a circle.  You want enough of the white fondant to come over the side of the cake.

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Use a sharp knife to cut around the fondant like above to achieve the look of icing drips.

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Again, dab a wet paper towel over the fondant, then carefully position over the top of the cake.

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Now for the pink band around Wishes.   Roll and cut out an appropriate sized band

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Stick it on with some water then use a blunt knife or I used a wooden skewer to make the slanted indent patterns on the pink band.

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Now make your eyes, nose, arms, and lips and attach with some water!  It already looks so cute!

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Make 3 white snakes then coil into these little swirls

 

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Attach the swirls and make some white “sprinkles” and the cake is complete!  She wanted a “6” on her cake and didn’t want just green candles (which is what Wishes has).

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She loved her little party and was so excited she kept hugging me and telling me ‘thank you’.  That’s what makes my Saturday spent on a birthday cake, all worth it!

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Eating a slice or two of cake helps, too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Toba Garrett’s “The Well Decorated Cake”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2  1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (good quality), melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and parchment line two 8″ cake pans (2″ high).  Melt chocolate, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together on med- low speed until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Add eggs into the butter mixture, scraping bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in a third of the flour mixture, mix. then a half of the buttermilk.  Mix and scrape bowl. Repeat until you have ended with the rest of your flour mixture.  Scrape bowl.
  6. Add in your melted chocolate and beat on med-high until well mixed.  Scraping bowl as needed.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove carefully onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost cake after completely cool.
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Her friends got to go home with these cute Shopkins keychains from the supplies I had left from a past party where I had bottlecap necklaces.

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I found that printable for free on pinterest and taped them onto pink craft bags.  My girl is into word searches so they got a word search booklet and mechanical pencil (from Dollar Tree) and a pretzel rod dipped in white chocolate w/ sprinkles, plus the keychains.

 

Good luck with your baking adventure!  Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Thankful for…

 

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As I sit and reflect on my past year this Thanksgiving season, I have many, many things to be thankful for, and this Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for my good health and for the good health of my family.  I’m grateful to be able to wake up in the morning and be able to get up on my own, to be able to take care of myself and my children, be able to drive and go places, be able to cook, bake, sew, read, do the things I enjoy and also the things I may not enjoy too much (aka: clean the toilets), to be able to live life and not be in constant physical pain is a tremendous blessing that I am reminded of this season.

My next door neighbor has cancer and only has maybe a week left before she will be leaving this world behind.  I believe she will be happy and no longer be in physical pain after she leaves this world, but it is still difficult to see her go.  During my last visit with her when she was still awake and aware of her surroundings, she said to “enjoy life while you can” and that is something that I really need to work on.  I am always immersed in the “to-do’s” and always looking for the “better”: “I’ll be able to breathe after I get through this, this, and this”, “I’ll be happy after I get a bigger place”, “I’ll be happy after the kids grow older and can take care of themselves”, etc, etc.  I have been trying to find joy in the “here and now”, and it really seems to be about your attitude and perspective, as I found in this pretty neat post circulating Facebook: (read from top to bottom then from bottom to top)

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I am grateful to be able to use my hands to create things for my children.

I have always been afraid of hand-sewing and have made a boy’s necktie before that required hand-sewn seams to close the back of the tie, but that may have been the first and last tie I made due to the hand-sewing which deterred me from making more.  That was a few years ago, and I was really doubtful about trying to make a doll that was ALL hand-sewn when I stumbled across this book by Shelly Down while Christmas shopping (in lieu of Santa) and thought they were beyond adorable!  I looked up her Gingermelon blog and saw there were free tutorials and patterns for some other insanely cute felt animals/projects and decided to try my hand at her little Sparkle Kitty. I figured I would throw up my hands (like the necktie) after trying to hand-sew the kitty and save myself from spending money on a book/pattern I wouldn’t end up using, but I really surprised myself at how the hand-sewing didn’t seem too bad and at how quickly and easily it came together (plus they are Super cute!).  Coming into the project, I had NO idea what a whip stitch, blanket stitch, or a ladder stitch were but after a few searches on Google and youtube, I was good to go; though you could tell which stitches were first and which came later.  I made 3 of these little creatures (one for each of my children) and was ready for more!

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They’re tiny little creatures 🙂

 

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After the kitties, which were a huge hit with my 3, I decided to purchase a PocketPoppy pattern from Gingermelon’s Etsy shop to try my hand at a doll and am pretty impressed with the pattern and how the dolls actually turned out!

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I used a wool blend felt from Felt the Wool (Etsy).  The wool blend felt really does make a difference in the quality of your doll and I would advise against using acrylic felts (usually sold at Joann and Michael’s) because they pill and don’t look nice after a little bit of handling.  I made the Kitties with the acrylic felt I had at home and they look worn and old already.

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I used 8mm safety eyes from Amazon instead of the 7.5mm that the pattern calls for, and I think my dolls look perfectly cute.  My only real challenge with the dolls was the hair!  I was able to “poke” the hair into the seams at the top of the head, but I couldn’t “poke” the hair into the felt down the back of the head like the instructions suggested and opted for the gluing option instead.  Only the first layer of “hair” is glued to the back of the head and the other layer of hair over that portion covers it and makes it look just fine.  I also ended up gluing the bangs portion in the front to keep it looking nice.

Add a little color to their face with a red or pink crayon! Rub on gently and add more as desired~

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The other more minuscule problem I found was that a couple strands of hair that was “poked” into the seam and hadn’t been glued to the back of the head had fallen out after my girls had played with them.  So I tried to remedy that by adding a tiny bit of glue to the “scalp” to keep the upper layer of hair in place and hopefully, withstand the playtime that it was meant to provide for my girls.

Summary of supplies:

  • PocketPoppy pattern
  • wool blend felt  Felt the Wool
  • pair of 8mm safety eyes
  • batting, fiberfill, cotton batting  (I used polyester batting)
  • yarn for hair (thicker is easier to work with)
  • Aleene’s Jewel-It glue (this is the one I used)
  • matching embroidery thread
  • needles (a few different sizes help)
  • fabric scissors and embroidery scissors help too
  • pink/red crayon for blush

Here they are so happy with their little dolls!

My older girl wanted black or brown hair for her dolly and my younger girl wanted red hair.  Sisters yet they are SO different!  I love them so much and am so grateful to have a family I can dote on.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving season with loved ones.

Thank you for reading.

-Flora

 

 

 

Bottle Cap Necklaces and Keychains DIY

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This summer has gone by way too fast!  I can’t believe it’s already mid-August and school is just around the corner!  I’ve been swamped the last couple months with a work, trips, family, and wedding planning (not mine; been there, done that).  We welcomed summer with a trip to Yosemite with my father-in-law during his annual trip to the US from Hong Kong.  After a week of Bible Camp we made the 14 hrs drive to WA to visit my family for 2 weeks and got to experience their unusual heat spell in a A/C-less apt.  As soon as we got back, I got to help plan a wedding!  How many of you can say you helped plan your mother-in-law’s wedding? I sure can!  Now there’s only 2 weeks left before school starts and I’m prepping for one last trip to Southern California before we get back into the grind of pickups, dropoffs, ballet, soccer, etc…

While getting a few things ready for school, I made some keychains for the kiddos’ backpacks with some of their favorite characters.  I had all the materials leftover from a birthday party many moons ago. My daughter had a birthday back in March and asked for a gymnastics party after she had a blast attending a friend’s birthday party at the same venue.  She also wanted the birthday theme to be Strawberry Shortcake so I decided to make bottlecap necklaces and keychains for party favors.  I looked around online and found the following method to be the most simple and cute for making these bottlecap necklaces/chains.

Materials:

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Gather your materials

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Carefully stick your 1″ circular image onto the 1″ epoxy sticker. Flatten back to make sure there are no bubbles

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Squeeze some E6000 adhesive to inside of bottlecaps and center your epoxy image onto the center.  Make sure to work in a well ventilated area and away from children.

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Lay out to dry overnight. Then punch a hole on the top of the bottlecap edge and insert split ring.  Then place on a necklace or keychain of your choice.

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For the party favor, I wrapped a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book in brown wrapping paper, then placed the necklace, crayons and a Strawberry Shortcake tattoo in a pink polka dot baggy (Target). 

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Finished off with green laundry rope from the Dollartree for a cute Strawberry Shortcake-esque look.

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My daughter had a blast at her party with her dear friends and everyone got cute little cupcakes to take home too!  You can never have too much cake!

DIY: Striped Red/White Knit Dress

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Now that school is out and I have all three of my sweet, wonderful, perfect children at home (always playing nicely, sharing their toys, never whining or pushing my buttons), I can’t imagine why I have no time to sew or blog.  I never realized this end of school year period would be so busy, even with a Kindergartener.  You would think it would be wind down time, but nope.  Just the opposite.  Plus, we had my father-in-law in town visiting from Hong Kong and we got to take a family trip together to Yosemite as soon as my son got out of school on Friday.  It was the perfect place to finally relax after the end of school year fiasco was over; surrounded by nature and no cell phone reception!  I don’t know about you, but I get nervous when I don’t have reception and that’s probably a sign that I am relying too much on this “smartphone” contraption and dumbing myself down… Ode to the days when we could remember all our family and friends’ phone numbers and could actually read a map.  Speaking of maps, I was the designated navigator once we got into Yosemite Park and I panicked (secretly) when I realized I couldn’t use Googlemaps and I actually had to look around at signs and terrain to figure out where we were and where to go.  Imagine my joy when I found our location on the little loops and squiggly roads drawn on the map after confirming we had actually passed the two tunnels that the map said we should be passing through! I had to give myself a pat on the back for navigating us through the park 🙂

Now this red and white knit fabric is from my past Knitfix purchase from Girl Charlee and I must admit, I had the hardest time trying to decide what to make with it.  I finally found an inspiration for this dress after I saw this “Beachcomber” dress by Shabby Apple, which unfortunately, is no longer available.  I loved the look of the dress and how the stripes on the skirt was cut on a bias to create a unique look.  Their dress has pockets, but I didn’t do the pockets because their fabric is a lot more “drapey” and soft, while my fabric is a cotton jersey knit, therefore, thicker and has more structure.  So the feel of the dress is a bit different from the loose, soft, flow of the inspiration dress, but I still like my dress.

I drafted a rough pattern for this dress using a loose top I have for the bodice of the dress then did some math (I know, crazy) to figure out how to split my waist measurement into four pieces for the skirt while adding enough room for seam allowances.  Then I measured the length of the skirt and when cutting out my skirt pieces, I cut it carefully so I could get the right look with the stripes.  When I finished piecing all the parts together, I realized it was too big, so I had to go back, cut, rip seams, and sew it again to get it just right.

I used a straight stretch stitch on my (very basic) babylock and used about a 3/8″ to 1/2″ seam throughout.  I ironed my hems when folding it and pinning to get clean, straight hemlines.

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This top works perfectly since it doesn’t have separate sleeves, which is the look I was going for.

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Trace the shirt and add seam allowances, then cut out your piece for the front and the back. I tried to make somewhat of a v-neck for the front.

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Pin and sew the sides up to the bottom of the sleeve.

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PIn and sew the shoulder and upper sleeve part with right sides together

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Divide your waist measurement by 4 then add 1/2″ seam to each side of your 4 pieces and cut. I tapered each of the skirt pieces so it gets gradually wider as it goes down.

Carefully eyeball the stripes so you get the right diagonal design for the skirt. I did horizontal lines for the middle front and middle back of the skirt. Then cut on a bias for the two side pieces of the skirt.

Carefully eyeball the stripes so you get the right diagonal design for the skirt. I did horizontal lines for the middle front and middle back of the skirt. Then cut on a bias for the two side pieces of the skirt.

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Pin and sew all four pieces of the skirt together with a 1/2″ seam with right sides together.

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The skirt portion should look something like this.

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With the top wrong side out and the skirt right side out, tuck the skirt (bottom hem first) into the top then pin and sew. It helps to make center and side marks on the bottom hem of the top and the top hem of the skirt to match you evenly when you pin.

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Double fold the neckline then sew. I cut my neckline too wide and it could almost be off-shoulder… I was trying to go for the wide boatneck look with a slight V. Oh well.

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Hem your sleeves to desired length. I only single folded the hem for the sleeves.

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Double fold and iron the skirt hem then pin and sew.

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Aaaaaaand you’re done!!!

Hey, this dress would be perfect for the 4th of July!  I just need to add some blue and stars and I’m the US flag!  I’m excited to add this to my small, but growing, knit dress collection.

Thanks for reading!

-Flora

P.S.  Thanks for taking the time to take pictures of me modeling the dress this morning before you left for work, Ken hubby!  Love you!

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DIY Tutorial: Girls Peplum Tankini and Bottoms

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This week, perhaps due to the Memorial Day holiday, has just flown by and I can’t recall anything particularly special about it (aside from remembering our Soldiers and Veterans), what with it being jumbled together with the repetitious motions of LIFE and having a husband MIA for most of it due to a business trip.  Oh yes, there was a “memorable” incident that will be, I only hypothesize, the first of many more to come, and I chuckle now, but I do dread the days when drama will set up house in my home.  Of course my house is filled with drama now, but this is drama of a different sort of which I speak.  My 6 year old decided he would run away and handed me a note which stated he no longer loved me and that he would leave and never return because I didn’t take him to Burger King after school.  And the punchline is this: there was a girl from his class he wanted to go with.  He would abandon mom for a girl!  Too soon!  Okay, maybe he just really wanted to eat a burger, but I admit I chuckled to think my son had so easily pushed aside me, his mom, for a girl and a burger.  Then it dawned on me that this was a foreshadowing of events to come.  He is my little momma’s boy now but I will have to move aside sooner of later… and so goes life.  It definitely is a reminder to cherish this time of innocence and sweetness of my children before they all grow up and decide mom’s no longer cool.  ha.

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Now on to the swimsuit.  Does this apple fabric look familiar to you?  If you’ve browsed through my “DIY Tutorial” page, you might have seen this same fabric for another swimsuit I made several years ago for my now 5 yr old.  It has recently been retired due to major wedgie issues so I wanted to try another swimsuit project for my C because it’s been in the 50’s/60’s here and that’s perfect weather for swimming in a “supposedly” heated pool!  (sarcasm)  Finally, today was the first day in weeks where I was able to take off my sweater and sit outside in the sun without freezing my butt off, so what better way to welcome the return of our sun than to make a swimsuit!  I tried to find cute swim fabric at Joann, but was disappointed with how unappealing and boring all their active fabrics were and ended up getting some solid pink active fabric; because you can never go wrong with pink with my girls.  I racked my brain and scoured the internet for some ideas for a solid colored swimsuit and was left unimpressed and uninspired.  As luck would have it, I found the remnants of this apple swim fabric left over from my previous swimsuit venture and after some careful measuring, was able to use almost every inch of that scrap of fabric to make this cute swimsuit for my little C.  The peplum idea came out of necessity because I wouldn’t have been able to cut one continuous piece for a tank with the scrap fabric, but cutting separate pieces for the peplum worked beautifully.

To make your girl’s swimsuit, you will need some swim (knit) fabric that has a a good amount of stretch in all directions.  I probably made this swimsuit (3T) with about a quarter of a yard of fabric remnants, but I really had to cut and measure carefully.  I didn’t use any elastic because the fabric has great stretch and fits her nice and snug and I used bias tape for binding the upper edges of the tank which extends into a ribbon to tie behind the neck.

Materials:

  • about 1/2 yard of swim fabric (depends on the size of your child)
  • bias tape
  • coordinating thread

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Please excuse C’s cute elephant undies, but this is what I used to make my pattern for the swim bottoms.  Add seam allowance and trace around the undies, then cut out the pattern and fold it in half, vertically.  Trim so both halves are identical; that way you have an even piece that’s not lopsided. This is the back piece for the swim bottom.

∗Pick a pair of undies that fit nice and not too loose, then you won’t have to add elastic to the leg opening and waist and your life will be a lot easier.

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Trace your back bottom piece onto a new piece of freezer paper, then using the undies as a guide, draw a curve (like above) for the front bottom piece on one side of the leg opening.

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Cut out the pattern piece, fold it in half vertically, then trace and cut the same curve on the other side of the leg opening to complete your front bottom pattern piece.

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Now, please excuse C’s little undershirt.  Use a tank top that fits nicely, not too tight and not too loose, fold it in half and trace, adding seam allowance.  I traced right at the edge of the tank top and didn’t add extra seam allowance because this undershirt is a bit loose on C and I don’t want the tankini to be too loose.

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So you should now have pattern pieces that look like this.  I used the same top pattern piece for both the front and the back and later ended up slashing the tank pattern piece across the waist to make a peplum.

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Draw a straight, horizontal line across the top of the tank perpendicular to the armpit point of the tank, as shown above.  That will be your pattern piece for the back of the tankini.  Then figure out where the waist is on your tank piece and draw another horizontal line across so you have a tankini bodice and the lowest third of the pattern piece will be the peplum.  Make sure to cut your upper bodice piece at the waistline (2nd line) that you drew.  Your peplum skirt piece should be 1.5x the width of your entire bodice width and cut 2.

* just fold down the pattern piece at the lines when cutting out your back and Peplum pieces.

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You should have a front bodice, back bodice, 2 peplum skirts, a front bottom, and a back bottom piece.  Make a center mark on the bottom hem of your front and back bodice pieces and for the upper hem of your peplum skirts.

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Take your peplum skirt and run a gather stitch (zero tension, longest stich 4) and pull the thread to make even gathers.  Repeat for the other skirt piece.

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With right sides together, pin one skirt piece to the front bodice piece, evenly distributing the gathers and matching the center marks.  Repeat with the 2nd peplum skirt and the back bodice piece.

∗I used a zigzag stretch stitch and straight stretch stitch to allow the fabric to stretch throughout this project.

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Sew the skirt and the bodice pieces together and you can already see it coming together nicely!

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With right sides together, pin the sides of the front and back tankini pieces and stitch.  Hem the peplum skirt piece if desired.  I was indecisive but ended up hemming mine.

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Pin bias tape to the raw edges of the back and underarms area but leave the neckline.  Sew it together.

∗Upon completing the swimsuit, I would have the neck-tie extend from this strip of bias tape rather than the neckline binding, so the tie will naturally extend to the back of the neck.

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Pin a long piece of bias tape to the neckline that extends beyond the neckline of the tank to create the tie.

∗In hindsight, I would have the tie extend from the back and underarm (in the previous step) bias tape instead, so the tie is not warped when tied behind the neck.

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Pin the bottom pieces with right sides together then sew the sides and the bottom of the pieces together.

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Fold over about 1/4-1/2 inch of the the leg openings and stitch.  (If your leg openings are loose around your child’s thighs, then you will have to make a casing and add elastic)

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Fold over 1/2″ of the waist hem, pin, and stitch in place.  (Again, if the waist is too loose on your child, then you will have to make a casing and add elastic) That’s why we used undies that fit nicely so we can make use of the stretch already in the fabric to keep the bottoms from falling off and having to add elastic (which can be a pain).

And it’s done!  It was really a quick afternoon project with no elastic, buttons, clasps, etc.  Super simple and super cute!  I love the way it turned out and now big sis wants a swimsuit like this too!  Too bad I’m out of this adorable apple fabric.

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Thanks for reading! Have an awesome weekend!!!  Maybe it’ll be warm enough to go swimming! (One can hope)

-Flora

DIY Tutorial: Girl’s Tunic Dress

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I have a growing problem: I like to hoard pretty fabric.  The clothes that I used to toss into the “donate” bag are being stored in every nook and cranny of our home if there’s even an inch of fabric to be salvaged; all because I will “someday” make use of the fabric to upcycle the garment and give it new life.  I think the TLC show “Buried Alive” may soon come knocking at my door if I don’t start whipping out some projects from this stash.  So I decided to use hubby’s old, nice, striped dress shirt with some floral fabric from my other stash to make a tunic dress for my little A.  My little princess loves dresses and every day is a battle to get her to wear pants with the much cooler weather that has been blowing into the bay area as of late.  I am usually successful in threatening convincing her to wear pants or leggings under her dress but my victory only lasts a couple hours when she takes them off at preschool.  I hope to whip out many more dresses and skirts for my girls so I can reduce the ever-growing pile of “fabric” in our already cramped home.

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Here’s hubby’s shirt that he doesn’t wear anymore because it wrinkles too easily? Sure~ I’ll take it!

I originally used a tunic block pattern from the book: “Pattern Making for Kids’ Clothes” but ended up using one of A’s play dresses to make adjustments after cutting the fabric because it would have been much too big for my A.  The book does a great job in explaining the purpose of a block and sloper (which I had never heard of before… linguistics major here) as well as how to use these basics to create an entirely unique design.  This book was also a loan from my library and it really makes me feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when I can gain access to these awesome pattern books without having to buy the book myself!  I love shared reading. 🙂

To make your own pattern from an existing dress, just fold the dress in half, lengthwise, trace, and add seam allowance.  I ended up doing basically that since the tunic block needed to be adjusted due to it being too big.

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Tunic dresses like these are my favorite to make and to put on my little girls. I love pockets on dresses too and my A totally agrees.

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Trace the tunic block and make adjustments to make a tunic dress.

I printed the tunic block following the link given in the book, pieced it together, traced it onto freezer paper, then made my adjustments.  This tunic block is the 5-6yrs size and it was much, much too big for my 5 yr old.  I wanted to make a tunic dress so I lengthened the skirt, slashed through the armpit of the pattern to make a separate bodice, and added 1.5″ to the skirt width to make gathers (since it’s on a fold, you would be adding 3″ of fabric for gathers).

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After all the adjustments for the front of the tunic dress.

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Trace the back tunic block and make adjustments, keeping in mind the foldovers for button plackets

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I did basically the same thing for the back of the tunic: lengthened the skirt, slashed horizontally through arm curve, added 1.5″ width to make the skirt gathers.  But this time, I adjusted the back bodice portion so I have enough fabric to fold under twice and overlap for buttons and button holes.

Add 1.5″ from the first line for one side of the back bodice, then add another 1″ from the middle line you just drew for the other side of the back bodice. Make sure you cut mirror images of the bodice pieces, one should have a longer “flap”.

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These are my pieces all ready to go.

I ended up having to adjust and cut a narrower shoulder width for the bodices later…  Also, eyeballed and cut out a pocket pattern and used the sleeve from the tunic block, just shortened it since it came as a long sleeve.

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Iron 1/2″ then 1″ for both sides of back bodice.

Add a strip of interfacing to the buttons/buttonhole plackets and then iron a 1/2″ then 1″ to the main bodice line for bodice with the shorter flap.  Do the same thing for the other bodice: you fold over 1/2″ then 1″ and iron.

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line it up to overlap an inch. Should match your front bodice piece.

You should have a 1″ overlap of the back bodice like in the picture above so you can have your buttons on the bottom placket and buttonholes on the top placket.

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pin and sew across shoulders

With right sides of fabric facing, sew the shoulder seams.  See how wide the shoulders are?  I cut it down to size using a nice fitting dress as reference after I had already sewed the shoulders together.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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Pin the two back bodice pieces together or you can baste it together, if you prefer.

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Gather stitch

Stitch straight across the top of the skirt piece for both the front and back skirt pieces using a long stitch length (4) and “0” tension.

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Pull threads to gather

Pull the thread on the ends to make gathers and evenly distribute them to fit the width of the bottom of bodice.

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attach skirt to bodice front and back. Skirts are still two separate pieces.

Pin the two skirt pieces separately onto the bodice front and the bodice back with rights sides facing.  Then stitch in place.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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topstitch skirt seam to bodice.

Iron the seam up towards the bodice then topstitch along the edge of the bodice close to the skirt.

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attach sleeves to armholes.

Pin your sleeves onto the armhole curve and stitch in place.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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prepare pockets

Prepare you pockets by ironing your raw edges onto the wrong side of the pocket.  You can baste the edges if you want to.  I added elastic to the top of the pocket to create gathers and also to give it stretch when the hand goes into the pocket.  Forgot to take pictures of that step.  Basically, cut a thing strip of elastic to the width you want the pocket top to be, pin the elastic to both top ends of the pocket, pin the middle of the elastic to match the middle of the pocket top, then stretch the elastic as you sew it onto the pocket top.  Here’s an example tutorial by Indiesew.  They use it on knits, but basically the same thing I’m doing here.

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prepare pockets and attach to skirt. I did it at the end, but it may be easier while two skirts are not attached.

Find where you want to place your pockets on the front of your skirt, pin it on, and stitch in place.  Think where their hands would naturally fall.

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sew on the pockets

Backstitch a small triangle into the top corners of the pocket for added durability.

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Finish neckline

Cut out a strip of 1.75″ wide fabric and make your double fold bias tape then pin and stitch in place.

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sew sides of skirt all the way to the bottom of the sleeves. I wasn’t going to do sleeves but changed my mind later so this picture doesn’t show sleeves.

Sew the skirt sides and the lower sleeves together with right sides facing.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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sew on the “hem” part of skirt.

I cut out about a 2″ strip of fabric to match the width of the skirt to hem the bottom for a cleaner look.

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finish the hem

Fold and iron at the seam then iron the raw edge onto the wrong side, pin, and sew.  Hem your sleeve as well by folding in and ironing about 1/4″ of the raw edge onto the wrong side then folding in and ironing again about 1/2″, pin and sew.

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find desired button placement

Now figure out how many buttons you want and place them on the back bodice.

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mark where you want your button holes

Carefully mark where the buttonholes need to go, make you button holes, and sew on your buttons.

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Finish buttonholes and add buttons!

Finished buttons and buttonholes always leaves me with such a sense of accomplishment!  Perhaps because I was afraid to buttonholes for the looooongest time.

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Voila~ Done!

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My little girl wanted to wear it to school the next day and I couldn’t say no when she was so willing to wear her denim leggings under them and put on her cardigan.  Good thing I took pictures of her in the dress before school because when I picked her up, she had pink glittery paint all over her dress.  I started to worry the paint wouldn’t wash off and couldn’t get my mind off of the paint the entire drive home.  Needless to say, I hand-washed the dress right when we got home and the paint did come off with a bit of scrubbing.  Don’t worry, I won’t freak out next time.  It’s just the day after I finished it, so I was a bit sensitive (and sleep-deprived).  🙂

Go ransack your hubby, brother, whoever’s closet and there’s bound to be shirts they don’t wear that have perfectly good fabric for making children’s clothes.

Until next time… Have a great week and thanks for reading!

-Flora