100 Dresses: The Janie Dress


I did not make this dress. It was made for me on the occasion of either my fifth or sixth birthday (my mom is not sure). The maker was Jane Stone, the mother of two little girls in my ballet class. We spent a lot of time with their family, and Jane was always making things.

The buttons are extremely life-like ladybugs; the three on the bodice are functional while the one on the pocket is decorative. I am so grateful to my mom for keeping this for 25 years. I can’t wait for it to fit Grace! (I can wait. UNIVERSE, I CAN WAIT. TAKE YOUR TIME.)

As soon as I find it, I will post a photo of tiny Annika wearing the dress.

100 Dresses: Two Summer Sundress


Pattern: Two Summer Sundress by Natalie Larson. Ravelry Link.

Size: 18 months, but I suspect I made the skirt too long.

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease
Fabric: Way Out West by Marie Rose. I don’t know if this was new or vintage when I bought it a few years ago at Playthings in Studio City.

This one is not technically finished, as I still have to sew grosgrain ribbon to the inside to cover the seam and reinforce the straps, but I just had to photograph it now. I love the combination of knitting and sewing!

100 Dresses: Flower Girl Dress


Pattern: Flower Girl Dress by Heather Ross, from Weekend Sewing.

Size: 2. A lot of people have noted that the pattern runs small, so I widened the bodice.

The fabric is from my stash, and was in my mom’s stash before mine. She bought it to make something for me when I was small!

Thank you Alicia for inspiring me to post about the dresses I make for Grace. And apologies to my flickr friends for the repeat!

Kids Clothes Week, Days 2 & 3

On Tuesday I sewed up Sam’s kimono top. He agreed to try it on and then refused to take it off!


Best sewing day ever.

I couldn’t remember if I’d pre-washed the fabric (bad sewist!) so I had my sister throw the three tops in with her laundry. I knew there was a chance of Grace’s top shrinking too much but I had to take the risk now rather than get a nasty surprise later.

After I finished the top, I cut out two pairs of pajamas, one for each kid, in a nice summer-weight fabric that I got at a yard sale a few years ago. The print is a map, of what I believe may be counties in Tennessee. I also began assembling everything I need to sew a Mei Tai baby carrier for me and a doll-sized version for Sam. If I am quick, they might be ready in time for his birthday! He has tried to put on the Ergo carrier, so I am hoping he’ll enjoy having his own baby carrier. (Ergo makes one for dollies, and I want to get that too. Greedy!)


Wednesday I intended to sew the pants together. Instead all I did was iron the kimonos. And by iron, I hope you do not assume that I actually made them look nice. Heh. Oh, no. In fact, after I turned on the iron I went to nurse the baby to sleep and my sister asked if I’d like her to iron them for me. “No!” I sobbed. “If I do it myself, today wasn’t a total wash!”

(Spoiler: day four is going better.) Anyway. The kimonos. I am sad that I didn’t sew these together sooner, because Gracie’s barely fits. It’s six month sized; she is currently wearing her 12 month sized longies. (!!) Oh well, hopefully I will get at least one or two wearings out of it for her, and she has Sam’s to grow into! I mean, if he ever takes it off.

grace1700blog grace1701blog

I used the tutorial from Habitual, and made the 6 month size with no modifications (except as noted below) and the 3T size in 4T length for my stringbean. I am sure I wrote down the measurements I used for Dolly’s, but I can’t figure out where I wrote them down. If I find them, I will let you know, as it came out perfect.

Instead of 10″ ties, all three tops have snap closures. The binding is 2″ long on Dolly’s, 2.5″ on Gracie’s, and 3″ on Sammy’s. I am considering adding a little more length to Grace’s so it’ll fit longer, but the back is stretched tight enough across her shoulders (line backer!) that I may not bother. I attached the snaps with my industrial snap press, and was lucky enough to have the exact shade of orange I needed.

Kids Clothes Week, Day One


Day one was a total success! I made bias binding and sewed up Dolly and Gracie’s kimono tops. (I also pinned together Sam’s, which I sewed together this morning–but I’ll post about that tomorrow.)




As you can see, I had an assistant.

Kids Clothing Week

It’s Kids Clothing Week at Elsie Marley!

kids-clothes-week-button2 My goals are not very lofty. In fact, all I really want to do is finish the kimonos I cut out last summer. I am very nervous about whether they will fit Sam and Grace after so much time has gone by, and I just want them done so I can find out! (I am not at all nervous about Dolly’s fitting.) If I manage to finish those with time left over, I want to make summer pajamas, a belt for Sam, and bloomers for Grace. And if I finish all THAT, I have a stack of vintage dress patterns and some pretty fabric. After all, I have a girl now so I must make girly clothing.

kids-clothes-week-button Because I don’t seem to have much luck getting sewing done, and because I always have something on the needles, I’ve got some kids clothing knitting going as well. A pair of Leapfrog pants for Sam and a Little Sister’s Dress for Grace.

But I’m also thinking that maybe it is time to assert myself and make my sewing space work better for me. I have the table now, and I have a desk. I have a cabinet for fabric. How do I make these things work together? Seems like it should be easy.

My plan is to just get rid of the other furniture. I’m sure no one will notice or mind.


I had a tiny bit of spending money and used it to get some beautiful fabrics to make a quilt for Grace. I think it’s important that the children each have a quilt that is entirely their own. Sam’s is crib sized, so Grace’s will be too. I happen to know, through extensive research, that crib size is exactly the same as lap size and therefore will be useful approximately forever.

This is Sam’s (remember?): sammy-bed

Yellow is definitely the dominant color, though there are actually several prints with little to no yellow in them at all.

For Grace I ordered various red and pink prints. There aren’t as many sweet kids’ prints out right now as there were in summer of 2007 (when I bought the fabric for Sam’s quilt) so it is primarily florals and abstracts. I had to order from two different stores to get the prints I wanted. About half of them have arrived:


The three prints on the left are actually one fabric, which will be the backing. For the patchwork top, I’m thinking of doing squares, like this. What do you think? I want something simple, but not too simple. I briefly considered doing a stacked coins quilt, but discarded the idea because I want a pattern that will work with what I bought (quarter yards of about 11 prints).

Hold me, I’m scared.

You guys, I just realized I need to go to Michaels and/or Jo-Ann this weekend. THE WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Oh lordy. How did I let this go till the last minute?

I need to purchase:

  • 26 buttons for Sam’s present
  • flannel for postpartum pads
  • dowels for Sam’s present
  • fabric for quilt binding
  • heavy duty stabilizer for diaper bag
  • white embroidery floss

And I think there was more, but I already don’t have enough money so I hope not. I can do without everything but the buttons if I have to, though. (Etsy shop is still stocked. Sales are abysmal. Whine, whine, whine.)

What I’m Up To

Last night Sam fell asleep before 6:30, sitting on Will’s lap listening to a story about a rooster.


He slept for about 12 hours, with two wake-ups to ask for water. He was awake for about an hour and a half this morning before asking to go back to bed. He slept for two more hours, called for me, and fell back to sleep patting my face. Then he slept for another two hours, woke up properly, ate something, and slept for another hour sitting upright (and then laying across me) on the couch.

Not only is this more sleep than Sam has ever gotten in 24 hours in his entire life, but… well, it is more sleep than Sam has ever gotten in 24 hours in his entire life. I guess this is what happens when he gets a cold (flu? whatever) for the first time since he stopped nursing.

I had no idea what to do with myself. So I napped with him for a little while (I needed it, I’d been up since 4:00) and then I got some work done.


I’ve still got all the sewing to do, but I got everything cut out and put together. Not bad for a morning. One of these is a gift, but the other two will be going up on Etsy and blog readers will get a special discount, so if you have a toddler to shop for keep me in mind!

Thanksgiving Crafts

Inspired by this post by Jessica, I decided that it was time for us to have some fall decorations in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Every year we go around the table and say what we are thankful for, which is almost as precious to me as the food. So how about a reminder for the whole month of November?


To make this I improvised a variation on Amanda Soule’s banners from Handmade Home. I cut cream-colored wool blend felt into approximately 6×8 inch rectangles. I printed out the words GIVE THANKS on regular paper, cut them out, and pinned them to brown felt, which I then cut out. (I tried marking the shapes with chalk, but it didn’t take to the felt. Boo.) Then I sewed the letters onto the squares, leaving more room at the top than the bottom. I just used my machine, but they’d look really nice stitched on by hand. I cut out leaves (see next project for details) to go on either end and between the two words, and sewed them on as well. Then I took nine feet (one roll) of brown stripey grosgrain ribbon and pinned it to the top of each rectangle, spacing them about an inch apart and leaving a foot on either end. I ran the whole thing through my machine, stitching straight across (even where there was no felt). All done!

Then I copied Jessica completely and made this little runner.



I cut a one yard by one foot strip of cream felt, and downloaded and printed the leaves from this page. I cut those out of scraps of red, brown, and gold felt, as I’d done with the letters. Then I sewed them to the cream felt with brown thread, right down the center of each leaf to make a fake vein. I am all about the realism. I’m planning to get another roll of ribbon and sew it around the edges, which will make it look kind of like I backed and bound it even though I totally didn’t.

The pinecones and acorns are things Sam has picked up over the last however long. If we all feel better soon, maybe we will go looking for other lovely seasonal things to display here. Or maybe I will make some out of wool. It will be a surprise! (Watch me not do either.) Or maybe it will just be a table runner. Anything might happen!