Category Archives: clothing

Like a pajama factory

This year the mothers of my grandchildren had a great idea and I ran with it. They suggested grandma-made pajama pants for their children for Christmas, and I was happy to comply.

I collected data on the little ones, who range in size from 18 months to size 12. I found a pattern online for pajama bottoms and managed to draw the size 10 and size 12 based on measurements and lines for size 8. Whew, I felt lucky just finding a multi-sized pattern from infant to size 8! I have 7 grandchildren, and my idea was to make pj pants for each one from a Christmas-patterned flannel, and for 5 of them an additional pair in a pattern each would love. The other 2 were not left out, you’ll see their quick quilts in a future post.

I went to the fabric store armed with measurements. I hadn’t noticed when flannel widths decreased, so I had to also re-figure the length I would need. If it comes in only 42″ widths, I had to figure I would get less once it was prewashed, and that was true – only 38″ in one case! I could not get two large pieces cut for the sizes 10 and 12 from one width of flannel, so I had to match up some of the smallest pieces next to the largest pieces.

I made a couple of errors along the way, but purchased fabric is never wasted, just used for another project. My dining room table became my cutting table for two weekends, and it was an organized chaos for a while. I found that I purchased the exact length I needed for the Christmas pattern pants. Too little fabric would have panicked me! I don’t live near fabric stores, so it would have meant a long drive to purchase more of the same.

Some of the flannel designs were one-way designs, meaning there was a right-side-up direction to the pattern. I had to be sure to cut the waist part of the pattern with the design going up. In at least two instances there was a definite lateral pattern as well. I had to use my knowledge of matching plaids to match the patterns as well.



I lined up the pattern on the fabric so that the two pieces that were cut would be identical from the top to the bottom, and from the side to the side. In the case of the plaid that meant finding a center in the pattern to fold.DSCN0445

(seams showing good matching of fabric pattern)




I pinned small tags to the pieces so that I could see at a glance which pair I was working on. Once I had all the pieces cut out for 12 pairs of pj pants, I started sewing like an assembly line.

DSCN0409I serged all the top edges and leg cuffs. I matched inner leg seams and sewed them. I matched center front and back seams and sewed them. I made a casing for the elastic waist and inserted the elastic, then hemmed the pants according to inseam lengths given by the mothers. Yes, I made it easy on myself at this point and topstitched. I rarely sew blind hems any more. It really is easy to sew loose pants in this style.

We decided to add long-sleeve t-shirts for each.


I was told the pajamas were a hit. In fact, one grandson defended me to a classmate on pajama day at school. The classmate swore there was no way a grandma could make pajamas. Michael said it was hard work, but his grandma did it.


3 projects going at once

I have several projects going right now, and three that I’m trying to work on through this long weekend.

santa tree skirtFirst, I had copied the pattern pieces for this Christmas tree skirt from a book, Deck the Halls. I currently can’t find the book, so I’m winging it when I have to. The background is blue felt, with Santa’s face curving around the circular edge. The directions say to use small wooden stars, paint them gold, drill a couple of holes and attach them as buttons for the stars in the night sky. I plan to use my home embroidery machine to embroider gold stars in the sky. This is an overdue wedding gift for a nephew who was recently married. I figure the gift isn’t late until Thanksgiving, and I plan to have it completed and sent well before then.

I also have circles. Lots of them.

I had cut these circles about a week ago for my friend’s quilts for her daughters. Instead of using her late husband’s jeans for these, since he didn’t have the numbers that 4 quilts would require, she had bought blue cotton fabric. I need to mark the squares, purchase and cut the batting, and start cutting the shirt fabric squares.

The other project I sewed on today was a doll quilt. I haven’t made one before, but I have the occasion to do so now. My stepson is marrying soon and will acquire a stepdaughter of his own. She’s only 4 and I look forward to meeting her. They are expecting a baby, and because the big sister will likely feel a little left out of things, I planned to make her some doll accessories.

I had bought some “quilter’s grid on point” and I couldn’t wait to use it. The amount I bought was the perfect size to cut into four pieces and each can be used for a doll quilt.

I used pink fabric and some of the floral bedsheet fabric I still have, and made 16-patch blocks. I broke up the blocks with solid blocks from the sheet fabric. I fused the blocks to the grid.

After I took this photo I realized the one-way direction of the white blocks would be going the wrong way. I found that I could peel each off, reposition, and press again. Good to know, I often have to adjust something as I go.

This is the back view of the grid. It is “grid on point” and would be very handy for stitching on a line, but I didn’t use it that way. I folded it between the blocks and sewed each direction. Incredibly fast and easy! I think I may love using this stuff.

I backed the quilt with white flannel, used low-loft batting scraps inside, and bound it with plain pink fabric.  I think Lamb Chop got very comfortable and I think my new step-step-granddaughter will enjoy it as well.

Three tops and a quilt

No, not quilt tops. Clothing.

First, the quilt. The fireworks quilt is finished and given away.

When I mentioned to my husband that I needed a different fabric for a narrow border, he promptly scrutinized the fireworks fabric and suggested a bright green. I think he was right on with that suggestion, it brings out the brightness in the colors. The mother and father-to-be laughed when they realized I had used fireworks for their July baby.

This top I’m very happy with!

I made it from a thrift store sheet, purchased for $1.25. I have plenty of fabric left over to make something else, like a skirt, or summer pajamas, or incorporate it into baby quilts. I love it when a plan comes together like this!

Two more tops finished, and I’m not as pleased with them, but they will do. The dark floral print below was yardage purchased at a thrift store.

I followed the pattern according to what would be my size, and it ended up far too big to wear. I’ll have to adjust a couple of things.

This plaid fabric was also yardage from a thrift store. The sizing is right, but I think the pattern was a poor choice for me. I may wear it around the house only, or I may grow to love it.

Replace as refashion

I’m feeling more like myself again and had a great thrift store shopping session last Saturday. Among my finds were two tops I could wear to work that were ready to go, no altering needed. Another is too small and there’s nothing I can do about it except get on the exercise bike and lose that weight!

Today’s post is about a repair to one shirt. I fell in love with how simple it was, a v-neck button-down white cotton shirt with lace at the cuffs and hem. When I tried it on to show my husband, he pointed out that some of the lace was coming apart.

Close up of the lace problem

I found a great rose patterned lace in my basket, which was actually a leftover from some curtains I had made about 17 years ago.

I set my serger to do a rolled hem, and I did it successfully, I might add. Sometimes I don’t notice all the steps I need to change on something. I made a rolled hem at the bottom and sides of the lace piece, pinned it right sides together with the shirt without even cutting off the old lace, and simply serged it in place. I let the serger cut off the old.

I stitched over the seam with a narrow zigzag to keep it from flipping and allow it to hang straight. I’m very pleased with the results! I didn’t have enough lace to do the cuffs also, so I just cut off and serged the ends of the sleeves. I’ll figure it out later.

The Pledge to Refashion

The Pledge

I, Quilt in Progress (Donna), pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed Quilt in Progress (Donna)

This will not be difficult, I’ve shopped thrift stores for quite a long time. I did recently purchase some new items (shorts and capris), but only because I couldn’t find adequate things in the thrift stores, and this is not something I want to sew for myself. Since then, of course, I found items in a larger size that I can cut down and use quite satisfactorily. My thrift store shopping began when I was gaining weight and didn’t want to commit to a larger size for myself. I figured if I spent an average of $2 per item, I could have “new” clothing in my “temporary” size. I always intended to lose weight. That “temporary” size has only increased since I’ve been thinking this way, and I lately found out medications had a lot to do with it.

Now, I ‘m on different medications, and as a teacher with the summer off and time on my hands, I have no excuse not to exercise, workout, and lose a bit of this weight. I’m handy with a sewing machine, and I think I can make bigger items of clothing into smaller ones,  no problem.

Why is the third time the charm?

This is Day Ten, and I had to conquer that serger.  Of course, I went through the diagrams, re-threaded everything the way I did twice yesterday, but this time it worked so I was able to continue with sewing the top I started. In doing this, I learned how to do a rolled hem, as the body of the shirt is a fabric so thin there really was no other choice. I’m pleased with how it came out, and I’m wearing it out to dinner tonight with my husband.

After completing it, I was inspired to look into my fabric stash and I started making a pair of pants, only to have the seams shred apart on me. I was totally uninspired at that point. Completing this top will have to do as my contribution to Day Ten of my Fifty Day Challenge.

Make do…

Let’s see, I think this is Day 8.

I decided I didn’t like having the mystery quilt blocking progress on anything else, so I’ll wait for a few more pages of instructions to post before I work on it again. In the meantime, I looked in my knit fabric stash to see what I had.

I love this fabric. I love this pattern.

knit fabric

I wanted to make this top out of this fabric, which is a 1 yard remnant purchased at half price. I didn’t know how much adjusting I would have to do to get a top out of this one yard, but I was up for the challenge. As you can see, I laid out the two largest pieces and already had a problem. Both needed to be on the fold but only one would fit. I decided the front would be on the fold and the back would have a seam. Then I discovered the two pieces for the yoke wouldn’t fit on this fabric. I looked around the sewing room….

And there was a t-shirt among the pile my husband had cleared out of his closet. It’s a size XXL so it had plenty of fabric to make the yoke and sleeves for my top.

I chose to use a different sleeve pattern. Instead of the puffy short sleeves with elastic, I’ll have short fluttery sleeves.

I changed the thread in my serger, which I’m not completely accustomed to sewing with, according to the directions. Everything went fine for quite a while. I have the front and yoke sewn together, the back has a facing at the neck edge, and the shoulder seams are sewn. I tried to serge the front to the back at the side seams and the threading on my serger went haywire.

Out came the book, thumbed to the pages with the most wear (of course) and started re-threading from scratch. It looked right, matched all the pictures in the book, and I tried to serge a piece of scrap – no good. Back to the drawing board. I worked again and re-threaded the machine. I sewed on a piece of scrap, and it worked for about 2 inches, then went all crazy again. That told me (loud and clear) that it was time to quit for the day. I didn’t mind at that point!