A Sunny Yellow RepliKate Shirtdress

I always try to downplay the impressiveness of my sewing projects because, really, they’re just following instructions from a pattern. However, this one turned out exactly how I wanted it to, so I’ll take a bow. And not so much for how well it turned out but for how close I got to what I was trying to achieve.

Yes, of course it was another repliKate (a Kate Middleton replica for anyone that hasn’t met me).

Image via Getty

I don’t know why it took me so long with my fondness for sewing and repliKates (I’ve also knit a shawl and sewn a cape similar to hers) to attempt making a dress. Not too long ago, I even made a couple shirtdresses that only took a day so I figured I could manage it. Also, call me stuck in the past, but I think shirtdresses are just the absolute perfect summer outfit, whether it’s 1960 or 2017.

I made this dress with Butterick pattern #6333 and an inexpensive bright yellow (obviously) cotton fabric from Joann Fabrics. The entire dress probably cost less than $20. Thankfully the pattern was really close to the Jaeger dress because I was not too confident I could merge two patterns together like I thought I was going to have to do.

In total, it took just a weekend (fueled by White Claws) to make. Side note: I never know how to answer the question of how long something takes me to make. Yes, it took about a weekend from start to finish (and under a slight deadline), but if I felt like dedicating an entire day to it, I could have done it. That’s also if my poor back did not hurt and I didn’t have to take alcohol and cheese breaks. What a workout!

This also seems like a good time to point out that the dress HAS POCKETS. Heavenly, amiright, ladies?

The pleats were one intimidating factor of this pattern, mainly because I have never done those before. And I am here to spread the good news—they’re easy! I’m super excited with how it turned out, because I think it looks so much like Kate’s. Also I really like the sleeves, which I was worried about. I cannot pull off cap sleeves, but these were just long enough to be considered cap sleeves, while not totally accentuating my arm pit obesity. Hooray!

The results are in: I wore it on one of the first nice days and got lots of compliments at work (and a few renditions of “You Are My Sunshine”, for what that’s worth). Happy spring!

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Men’s Gray Knit Scarf

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Little does he know, Mark’s modeling career is just getting started.

Call me the commissioner of the league because yo girl got another commish. This time, the item requested was a men’s scarf (which actually may still be usable in May in the Midwest). I picked a simple but interestingly patterned men’s scarf in dark gray (because men can’t wear colorful colors, duh). While the pattern itself was simple enough, the small needles and smallish-sized yarn meant it took a really long time to knit.

Despite that, it turned out pretty great! I think this may be one of my least flawed pieces to date. Usually some sort of mistake sneaks its way in (just don’t look too close). Farewell dear scarf, you’re off to a new home, which is fine by me because I never want to see the same 10 rows I knit a thousand times again.

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Stenciled Scotland Messenger Bag

Have you ever wanted to stencil the name of a country you’ve never been to onto a thrift store messenger bag? I certainly have. So I did.

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Sunday morning in nowhere-near-Scotland vibes.

Like so many of my projects, this one has a long and storied past, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I’m half Scottish and decided I needed to make a Scotland sweatshirt (I guess I forgot that the internet exists so that we don’t live like pilgrims making all the clothes we desire). I painstakingly made a stencil and stenciled it onto a sweatshirt and, don’t you know, it looked great. Then I washed and shrunk the sweatshirt so it no longer fit me. It was fun while it lasted. But I hung onto the stencil for a long time, just waiting for the perfect item on which to try again to fall into my hands. And then I found this canvas messenger bag at a thrift store. And THEN a few years went by and here we are today.

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The blank canvas (bag), perfect for carrying around heather and haggis.

So that’s what I started with. Actually, I should back up. I started with a printout of a crest and the word “Scotland” in the font I wanted, a blank sheet of stencil material, and an Exacto knife. That’s how the stencil came to be. It took forever, by the way.

I measured where I wanted to put the stencil so it was centered on the front of the bag and pinned it there. A note about this: the first time I stenciled the sweatshirt, I used some sort of temporary spray adhesive that worked great and the stencil turned out perfectly. I couldn’t find it at the store this time and the guy recommended just using push pins. Needless to say, go with the spray if you can find it: way easier, less time-consuming, and better results. I am going to give that guy a piece of my mind if I ever see him again.

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Here are the two stencils pinned down with 8 million stick pins. The pins worked OK but were not ideal.

Once the stencils were pinned down, I used one of those cheap foam brushes to dab on the paint. I just mixed blue and black craft paints that I already had to make the navy color I was looking for. #resourceful. Unsurprisingly, the pins got in the way (and had to be tossed after), another reason the spray adhesive would have worked better.

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Painted but before the big reveal.

But it still turned out pretty well! The fact that the paint seeped under the stencil a little actually kind of gave it character and made it look not-so-perfect, in a good way (or so say I when I’m justifying why it’s not perfect). But, baby, it’s perfect to me.

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The finished product. Imagine me on the floor of the coffee shop taking these pictures to get the full visual.

The good news is that the design is actually legible, and I can reuse the stencil again and slap something on top of this if I decide that I hate it. But I think I like it. It’s growing on me! They may take my life, but they’ll never take my STENCILSSSS!

A Knitted Union Jack Pillow

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That’s right—I’m not burying the lead. Here’s the finished product before I even say a word. #generous

Good gravy, it’s been ages since I’ve posted! Which is about how long it’s taken me to knit this pillow. Seriously, I started it at least a year ago and while, of course, I wasn’t working on it constantly, it was really putzy. It didn’t help that I had to start over twice (during which time I learned a new word and a new knitting technique called intarsia) and that the needles required for this were approximately the same circumference as toothpicks. But I did it! I’m finished! And no, I will not make one for you! Sorry. But just no.

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Aw, it’s already fitting in and getting along with my other pillows!

Even though the pillow is way bigger than I was expecting, I love how it turned out. I especially love the colors because they’re muted and go with almost anything. My apartment is starting to go a bit England crazy, so this is one relatively subtle addition to the decor. I used this pattern from Ravelry which, once I figured out what intarsia was and how to do it (look it up), was pretty easy to follow and execute—just time consuming.

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Close up of the colors (there are actually 2 slightly different dark browns that I used) and the INTARSIA I finally mastered.

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The finishing detail—buttons to close the opening in the back. I now see that the ribbing doesn’t line up 100% but screw it; it’s on the back anyways.

Now that I’ve finally finished my epic knitting project, I am jazzed about it again and excited to start knitting something else. I’m thinking this hat will be up next. Stay tuned, little turkeys. Yah? yah. #MakingAMurderer

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My picture-perfect apartment. Just kidding. I moved about 10 pounds of crap off the couch to take this picture and there are dead leaves all over the floor to the right. Oh well.

A Bicycle Dress Built By One

Another day, another dress! After the first dress I sewed went so swimmingly, I decided to make another while the motivation was still fresh. And, like the first one, it only took about a day to make! And since I could reuse the pattern, the total cost for the dress was even less.

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I used New Look pattern 6587 again. It’s a really great pattern in that it’s easy, fits me well, and has enough variations in the sleeves and other options that I can make multiple dresses that don’t feel or look the same. I fell in love with this springy bicycle pattern when I was hunting for fabric for the first dress and had to go back for it (and I’m glad I did). Since I needed under 3 yards of fabric and buttons were the only other expense, the dress was only about $20 from start to finish.

Everyone I’ve shown has loved the red buttons and I have to admit those are my favorite part too! They are a fun detail that add some color to the white dress (and make the pattern pop, too). The sash adds something unique as well and can easily be swapped out for a belt.

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I felt confident enough to make a few adjustments to the pattern this time around. I didn’t add interfacing to the collar so that it would be smaller and less stiff. I made the collar smaller overall and I like the less-prominent collar on this dress much better. I also took the bodice seams in a little bit to get a more fitted look. It worked out really well but if you’re trying it, remember to start with a tiny bit—you an always take in more but it’s harder to let it out!

Here’s the finished product. Now I just need spring to come! And maybe like, 4 more dresses.
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Hunter Boot Liners

I’d like to pretend this project went so perfectly and what I’m about to describe did. However, I had 2 failed attempts at this project a year ago that led me here. But the good news is that you can learn from my mistakes! Once I figured out what to do, these were pretty easy to make in just an afternoon. image2-2The first time, I tried to make my own pattern (just like Pinterest told me to) and failed spectacularly. What did work was using this polar sock pattern that I bought at JoAnn Fabrics, since I couldn’t find a boot liner pattern. It is a pattern for thick, fleece socks that have the option of being made knee-high, which is what I chose. I made a men’s size that was a couple of sizes bigger than my shoe size but looked like it would fit inside my boot when I placed it on top of the pattern. image3 I made the polar socks according to the pattern, except for the ribbed top. Then I put the socks on inside the boots and measured how much fabric would be needed to reach the top of the boot plus fold over times two. It is a lot easier to leave this cuff extra long and then shorten it, which is what I did. I just took the seam in gradually until it was long enough fold over the top of the boot with the right sized cuff. image1-4 All in all, I think they turned out pretty great! I love the fabric and they’ve already come in useful sloshing through the snow and salt of the Wisconsin winter, while keeping my feet much warmer than before. I’d love to make some more boot liners in different colors and patterns—and see what you guys come up with too!

Leafy Tote Bag

Hello friends. I thought I’d share this little tote bag I made awhile back. It’s actually a pretty easy and quick project, as long as you don’t take a year-long break in the middle of sewing it, like I did. Live and learn. Here’s the pattern I used, from Simplicity. The bottom of it actually spreads out and carries a fair amount of stuff and the two linings makes it strong enough to do that. Good pattern, good bag, enjoy!

Here she is.  The lining actually makes it super sturdy and can carry a lot of heavy stuff.

Here she is. The lining actually makes it super sturdy and can carry a lot of heavy stuff.

Close up of the top part. Don't look too closely at the alignment of the stitching...

Close up of the top part. Don’t look too closely at the alignment of the stitching…

Another view. Pretty roomy at the bottom.

Another view. Pretty roomy at the bottom.