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Knit Danforth Pullover

So here I am, finally wearing my finished Danforth Pullover. It's poorly blocked and covered in leaf fragments from the walk in the woods we took just prior to snapping these photos (note windblown ponytail - oops!), but I'm giving myself a break on this one. I started knitting it last October, just before we moved. It was, admittedly, a terrible time to start a new knitting project, but I was stressed out and knitting needles were needed to calm my nerves. This was a start and stop project with a few rows knit here, a few rows there. I think my inconsistency shows in the finished garment, but I love it all the same. 

Yarn is Berroco Comfort DK in navy. It washes well, stretches in all the right places, and is really really warm. Perfect for wearing on a cool spring day outside with little ones.  

The pattern is pretty much my dream come true: top down, no sleeves, schematic included. It was incredibly easy to follow, and I think that the shoulder seam detail and deep armholes give the finished pullover a very modern look. It is essentially a shaped, ribbed tube, however, so it really shows every bump and lump on the body. Even though I gave it a good tug before taking these photos, just bending down to put the baby on the floor created the little ripples and uneven lines seem above. Now I think some bumps and lumps are just lovely facts of life, but worth noting for others who may be contemplating the pattern. For me this pullover as a big navy hug, and I plan to look to Pam Allen patterns again in fufure when knitting for myself. 

What do you have on the needles right now? Something for spring?


DIY Colonial American Costume


So quilting was interrupted last week when my daughter told me that the deadline to bring in her costume for the school colonial faire had passed, and I better get to work because her teacher knows I sew. Yes, that's pretty much exactly what she said. I own a sewing machine and I know how to use it, so obviously I must handmake her a complete outfit that would have been worn in colonial America. Sometimes these demands make me mad, but this time I thought: fair enough. I declined to sew 120 aprons for the rest of the student body when asked, but one outfit I could handle.

So above you see photos of our girl striking her best colonial pose in her new calico skirt, eyelet shirt, and apron. The apron is simply a vintage tea towel that I was gifted years ago depicting (what I assume to be) colonial America. I sewed a wide black ribbon to each side, tied it around her back and it became a great long apron. The skirt is a little more than a yard of calico sewn together at the selvedges, with an elastic waist inserted. A quick sew for one time use. 

The shirt was where I spent some time. I know there is little chance that the long skirt or apron will be worn again, but at least the top has a chance. The pattern I used is the Juliette Shirred Blouse from Sew What You Love with shorter sleeves, added length, and an open bottom. I was thrilled when my girl wanted to wear it to a friend's house with her everyday leggings (see below) the very day she tried it on. I'm not surpised - what's not to love about eyelet?

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Scout Quilt Started

So the past couple of weeks I've been sneaking up to the sewing room to start a quilt for our almost four year old. He currently has two beds in his room: a twin he inherited from his older sister, and a toddler bed that he inherited from his older brother. He doesn't sleep in either of them. Last night, he slept in his brother's room, on a trundle. You see, the poor little guy is terrified at night right now, waking us over and over to tell us that the world is scary when you are all alone. We agree. Then in the morning he gets me alone and solemnly tells me that the other reason he can't be expected to sleep in his bed(s) is that he doesn't have a quilt "made by mom" yet. He hopes that by the time he's four he will have one for his "big" twin bed. Cue smile, complete with heart melting dimple.

I speak fluent three-year-old, so let me translate that for you good folks at home who don't.

"No pressure mom, but I can't reasonably be expected to try to sleep in my own room, in my own bed, alone, until I have my own twin sized quilt handmade just for me, by you, so get to work if you, or dad, ever want to sleep through the night again. Oh, and by means of disclaimer, even after I get a cool quilt and turn four years old I promise nothing. I may very well sleep on a trundle, or on the floor until I leave home."

Message recieved son. I'm working on it. 


Pattern: Scout, by Cluck Cluck Sew. I'm adapting the pattern to be a twin size when finished. I'll let you know how it goes.

Fabric: Mix of Birch Organics Mod Basics, Birch Organics Ipanema, older Heather Ross Far Far Away prints for Kokka Fabrics, an arrow print whose origin I cannot recall, and a little Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman.

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Pink Fig's Olivia Top 

So remember yesterday when I said I made three spring dresses for my littlest person? Well this is the third. It's the Oilivia Top from Pink Fig Patterns with the optional ruffle bottom in size 12 months. This pattern requires a little more sewing experience than the reversible pinafores I shared yesterday, but it's totally doable if you have a little time on your hands.  Though it's essentially a raglan peasant dress in design, the version I made requires knowledge of sewing with elastic thread, ruffling, finishing seams, and hemming. There are instructions for how to create shirring with elastic thread, and some simple black and white photos included, but it's really an intermediate level project. If you have a serger or sewing foot that makes rolled seams, then this will sew up fairly quickly. Hemming and ruffling took up most of my time, but worth it for such a cute look. Now if only spring would hurry up and arrive....

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Reversible Pinafores 

So in the past couple of weeks our mailbox has been stuffed with sunshine in the form of catalogs and offers containing seeds, outdoor furniture, and bathing suits. Stores are likewise selling sunshine, and lots of it. I went to buy some cold weather clothing for our little babe (she's outgrown nearly every onesie and pajama in the house) and could only find warm weather options in the store. It seems that retail businesses in America are selling for spring and only spring, but Mother Nature never go the memo. As I type this it's snowing outside, but the advertisers and marketers of America have me dreaming of sunshine. It's kind of like when I see a commercial for food and suddenly MUST eat...when I see spring clothes and I suddenly MUST sew. And sew I have. 

Late at night and early in the morning I've knocked out three spring/summer dresses for my growing girl since Sunday. The first two are the reversible pinafores I'm sharing today. They are the reversible pinafore pattern available for instant download on Etsy in multiple sizes from Aliyah's Hope Chest. I highly recommend this pattern if you are looking for a practical garment that can be sewn without a serger in a short period of time. The pinafore is completely reversible, so all seams are contained and do not require finishing, cutting down sewing time a lot.

Something to note is that when you purchase the pattern your download only contains the actual pattern to print, not the instructions. The instructions are available to the public in the Etsy listing (it says: "instructions are available at this link..." in the listing), so I suggest reading the pattern instructions and viewing the how-to videos to help you make up your mind. As a visual learner I found that once I watched the videos I was set to sew without really refering to the pattern much. A great perk when it's 5 am and you are determined to have a new handmade garment on your kid by breakfast.

Now for the details: 

Our girl is now 10 months and about 20 lbs, and 29" long for size reference. The floral pinafore is sewn in the 12 month size with piping added all around. Fabric is Cloud 9 organics Bed of Roses for JoAnn's and reverses to . This size fits little R perfectly, but there is no room to grow. She screamed when I pried it off of her last night. 

The hot air balloon pinafore is sewn in a size 18 month with rik rack trim sewn into the shoulder seams of the outside, and along the front curved bottom seam. Fabric is leftover from this batch of blankets from the bright balloons collection by Robert Kaufman. It fits R more loosely, but is still cute, and was easy to get on and off. 

Balloons reverse to:

Pros about the pattern: It fits close to the body but allows for lots of movement, which is essential for this age. It also allows for lots of personalization if desired. I added piping and rik rack to these pinafores, but I think a little pocket, some embroidery, or a patched front would also be great. Also, as I mentioned, no serging is required, these sizes require very little fabric, and it's a very quick sew. 

Cons about the pattern: It's not really a con, but this a top really, not a dress, which the pattern listing makes very clear. I really love the short length for this cold weather layered over long sleeved and pants, but for actual spring and summer, I may add a little length and pair it with capri leggings or daiper covers. 

What have you been sewing lately?


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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Lego Moto Look

pattern/ modified flashback skinny tee, self-drafted moto knee patches

fabric/ interlock heather knit from Joann's, red organic cotton baby rib knit, Lego bricks woven cotton

pattern alterations/ flashback tee: sewn in size 7/8 for slim 6 year old with two inch cuffs and additional two inch waist band and additional Lego brick fabric inset.

found at/ kcw projects

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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Stellar Tunic

pattern/ stellar tunic dress by figgy's

fabric/ loulouthi by anna maria horner woven cotton scraps, purple jersey knit from stash

notes/ LOVE this pattern, great fast sew and on trend design for the older/not-yet-tween girl set **i know she likes it when she leaves it on for school after the am photo shoot ;)**

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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Architextures Treasure Pocket Pants


pattern/ treasure pocket pants from Sewing For Boys

fabric/ architextures by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman

pattern alterations/ (1) sewed size 4/5 for my slim 6 year old with 2" added to length all around, (2) used contrast fabric for pockets, and (3) made single waist casing for elastic rather than double.

found at/ kcw project page

read about kcw by clicking on button below

kid's clothes week

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Just a little note to say that I've just claimed by blog on Bloglovin! I used to us Google Reader to keep track of all of my favorite bloggers. Then Google Reader retired and I switched to Feedly, but now I've found my home over at Bloglovin. I like the format, the suggestions, and the daily email digest that is sent right to my inbox. So check it out, and Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

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DIY Windowseat

So one of my favorite spots in our new home is a windowseat in our daughter's room. It's wide and deep and tucked in between two rooflines, making it the perfect place to sneak out of the house when she's a teenager, and the perfect place to snuggle together right now. When we looked at the house, the windowseat was bare, and it made me feel more than a little lonely to leave it that way when we moved in. Thus, the windowseat became a sewing priority. 
At first my vision of the windowseat was one of thin cushions in different prints piled high (think princess and the pea). However, the cost of home dec fabric, the wrangling of foam inserts, and the safety aspect of young children in front of windows soon changed my mind. Instead I settled on a simple foam cushion with loads of pillows. I was surprised at the lack of DIY windowseat cushion tutorials and inspiration available on the internet, and I was impatient to get started, so I winged it, and made A LOT of mistakes. 
First, I made one long cushion (over 80" long) by sewing an envelope of home decorator weight fabric with boxed corners and an invisible zipper. The insert is one continuous piece of 4" foam.
Next time, I will make two smaller ones. Handling such a long piece of 4" foam is not fun folks. 
Second, I sewed my zipper into one of the short sides of the cushion, rather than a long side. Next time I will center a longer zipper on a long side of my cushion to make it easier to remove and clean.
Third, I placed the cushion cover directly in top of the foam. Next time I will make a thin muslim for the foam to prevent the home dec fabric from sticking to the foam everytime we sit down. It's kinda cute to see little moon shaped butt imprints when we get up, but it's kinda NOT cute too. 
That said, this window seat is doing exactly what I wanted it to on this snowy, freezing day - it's giving us a place to snuggle, read, and explore the world outside from the warm safety of indoors.
(Pipe cleaner/pom pom/feather headbands and siblings with no sense of personal space are completely optional, but recommeded.)
A note about all those pillows before I go...
These are all very simple knife edge pillows with zipper closures. There are a gazillion tutorials out there for such pillows, but I think this one is particularly good. Once you have the zipper down you can get creative with the pillow tops and backs.
I pieced some of the pillow tops with scraps from this quilt, and used a mix of home decorator weight fabrics to tie my more modern quilting aesthetic to the traditional lace window coverings that came with the house. The pink awning stripe, grey and white polka dot, and grey and white bold prints are all by Premier Prints, purchased from this Etsy shop. The grey and white rose patterns are the Rosmarie prints from IKEA. Pattern overload? Perhaps. But I love it, and I think that's what matters when sewing for oneself. What are you loving right now?

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First Sew

So it's the beginning of the year and every day is packed with "firsts" around here.  First cake of 2014! First snow day! First piano lesson! First stomach bug! First frozen pipe! And...drumroll please...first sew!!

Early mornings this week I have been stealing away to my new sewing space to have some fun before the rush begins. I have big crafty projects for 2014 swirling around in my head, but I'm going to ease into them. For now, I'm diving into piles of older knit prints, discarded knit pajamas, and these lovely soft organic rib knits.

Today I finished up these three tops for my baby girl. Like all babes, she hates having clothes put over her head, so I tried out some envelope tees from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg Mcelwee. In addition to the straightforward everyday projects in Meg's book, I really appreciated her section on sewing with knits. She tells us which thread is best, and even lets us know how she sets her sewing machine for the best knit stitch.  My necklines have never looked better! 

The envelope tee is an especially simple pattern, and I made all three tops in a total of about 4 hours, so they are a pretty quick sew. The only complaint I have is that envelope neck itself is a bit too big, and it gapes on my girl. Baby cleavage is NOT a good thing in my opinion, so my next batch of envelopes will be sealed a bit more tightly. That said, I chose to make the 12 month size for my 8 1/2 month old, so it may be my fault. 

All three tops are a little different. This floral number is the envelope tee made a bit longer into a tunic length.

This cloud shirt is the envelope tee pattern with a 2 1/2" square pocket added to the front, and a wonky hemline. I curved the front hem and extended the back hem, sewing the finished corner edges under 1/4" before sewing up the sides. It looks pretty cute stretched over a full baby belly. 

Finally, this third skirted cloud top is the envelope tee pattern shortened to just below the armpit, with a simple gathered skirt sewn to it. The lace overlay was already appliqued to a pajama top that my mom gave me on its way to the donate bin. Score!

 What's your first sew of 2014 going to be?


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12 Days of Christmas Guest Post - Latkes and Lederhosen


So I'm really excited to be guest posting over at Craftstorming today as part of the 12 Days of Christmas blog series hosted by Laura of Craftstorming and Suz of SewPony! This photo is a teaser for what you'll find if you click on the button below...

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Oh, and if you like what you see, please leave a comment over at Craftstorming or here on Counterpane.
Blogs are for sharing :)


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Finished Rosalie Quilt

So remember my Rosalie quilt top? I hope so, because I could not get this Rosalie out of my head for weeks after I posted about it. In fact, I've discovered that I am not good with unfinished sewing projects lying around. I currently have three books in progress on my nightstand, and it's very likely I will never finish reading two of them, but for some reason I could not bring myself to start the next quilt I have planned until this Rosalie was completed. Go figure!
From experience I know that I do not enjoy quilting quilts over 40" x 50" in size on my sewing machine, so I contacted Lindsay over at Eileen Quilts for help. Lindsay did such an amazing job on my Wonky Flying Geese Quilt, that I knew she was just the person to trust with these yards of treasured Kokka fabric. After much deliberation I could not decide between a bubble or shell quilting motif, so I asked Lindsay to choose for me. She went with shells, and I'm so glad she did. You can see how the curved shells soften the many pieced points. The shells create a feeling of movement for me, and I can almost imagine the little birds in the patterns taking flight.
For the quilt back, I used an old white 400 thread count cotton sheet. Why am I mentioning thread count? Because I want you to know just how super soft the sheet was - super soft/yummy soft/snuggly and perfect for a quilt back soft. Using a sheet as quilt back is a departure for me. Usually I piece my quilt backs with quilting cotton or linen. This quilt top is so very bright and busy however, that I craved some blank space for its reverse, and figured that a sheet was my least expensive and most practical option. I've always loved how solid colored and whole cloth quilts allow the quilting itself to shine. I know that I will be machine washing and drying this quilt often (it's meant for an 8 year old after all!) and I look forward to seeing how the crisp white back puckers, pulls, and fills in the sewn shells over time. 
The 1/4" binding is sewn with the always-appropriate-no-matter-what-the-pattern Honeycomb Dots print by Kei Fabric. I like the way it came out, but really struggled when sewing it on. It was just too narrow to machine or hand sew comfortably, and I've vowed that my next quilt will have a binding of at least 5/8". 
Now this quilt is ready for my girl, and I'm ready for my next sewing project. Hooray for us both!

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Flashback Skinny Tees for Fall

So we're experiencing a lovely fall here in the northeastern United States. The mornings are cool, and the afternoons sunny and warm. The trees are beginning to shed their leaves, and the apples are finding their way to markets in bushels. The pumpkins are showing up on people's doorsteps, and...you get the point.

For days like these we all seem to be coming down for breakfast in either jeans and short sleeved t-shirts, or shorts and long sleeved t-shirts. Inevitably, one of us looks like the inverse of the other. This is especially true when it comes to my boys, who are so close in size now that they often wear one another's clothes. Many a day this month they look as if they took one winter outfit and one summer outfit and shared it - one boy taking the pants from the winter outfit and the t-shirt from the summer outfit, and handing the other boy the long sleeved top from the winter outfit, and the shorts leftover from the summer outfit. 

With these mixed up impressions in mind I made the boys each a Flashback Skinny Tee (pattern by the amazing Rae Hoekstra over at Made by Rae) in Zigzag knit cotton jersey fabrics designed by Amy Biggers for Robert Kaufman. I've swapped colors for the boys torsos and arms, making each shirt an inversion of the other. 

Knowing my boys as I do, I chose different wrist finishes for each child. For my littlest man I went with Rae's 2 inch rib knit cuff, and for his older brother I picked a simple zig-zag hem. Both necklines are finished with Rae's first neckband choice, and both waistlines are finished with a zig-zag hem.

The blogosphere probably does not need another glowing review of the Skinny Flashback Tee pattern, but I'm going to jump in and say I love it anyway. I love it for its sense of humor, the many different finishing options that if offers, its multitude of photos, and the "hints" it provides.

I've been using a walking foot on my sewing machine when sewing with knits (and minky material) for a while, but I've always struggled when attaching a rib knit cuff or neckband. When I read Rae's hint to use a regular presser foot for neckbands, and I tried it, and viola, it worked! So if you're looking for a simple child's knit pattern to play around with this fall - try this one. It does not dissapoint.

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So there

So this moment is the very first moment I have had to myself in weeks (excluding the obvious shower and sleeping moments of course).  It's been a little crazy around here, and I've been keeping track of how I use my time in a way that I never have before. It's gotten so intense that last night after my kids refused to eat a vegan quiche that I spent an hour preparing, I found myself furious at the quiche. I silently cursed the half nibbled food on it's way to the garbage for the hour of my life spent making it. I hate that feeling (and by the way - it's not the quiche's fault, it was delicious and I'm planning to devour my leftovers in my next free moment).
Last month, living in this time-sesitive state of mind, I was continually shocked by how many minutes, scratch that - HOURS, I spend on the non-sewing part of my little home based business. As any vendor who has ever participated in a craft fair, sold at a school fundraiser, started a shop on etsy, or otherwise endeavored to make and do all aspects of even the smallest business by themselves knows, there is SO MUCH more to running a handmade business than the actual hand-making. There is the label making, the wrapping, the photographing, the shopping, the marketing...the list really goes on and on. 
So today, I'm taking this moment, my moment, and I'm using it share these photos of my (relatively) new batch of handmade items. It's a moment of triumph for me over the passage of time, because, frankly, with 4 little kids at home with no school/no camp and no time, this batch was the hardest batch I've ever made. So there.

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Challis Hi Low Top For Me

So with four kiddos age 7 and under I feel like I've been rotating through the same maternity and nursing clothes forever. Then two weeks ago I threw a bit of Anna Maria Horner's rayon challis in Spotted in the Crowd (Espinoza colorway) in the online shopping cart when shopping for baby blanket material. I am SO glad I did. 
Anna Maria never lets me down. I've sewn with all of her fabrics: voile, quilting cotton, velveteen, flannel, and now, rayon challis. Her prints are beautiful, her colors are vibrant, and her materials stand up to hard wear and frequent washing well. In short - they are awesome.

Pattern is the free High Low Shirt Pattern and Tutorial created by Melissa over at Melly Sews. After reading through the pattern I decided to try it exactly as is, since it seemed like Melissa and I have almost the exact same measurements. I know I should have made a muslin, but I didn't (four little kids = no time for muslins). Lucky for me this shirt turned out great on the first try. When I make it again (because I will) I will either finish the neck with a simple hem or a thinner bias tape trim. I will also lengthen the front just a bit to cover the button of my jeans.
I've worn this shirt three times this week. I think it's time I take it off and wash it now...;)

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Finished Rosalie Quilt Top

So I did it! During quiet(er) moments I've managed to finish piecing my Rosalie quilt top. What do you think? So far, so good, right?

I have a mental snapshot in my head of this quilt finished and draped on my daughter's bed. In that snapshot the back of the quilt is simple, perhaps even (gasp) solid. The binding is a small scale black and white print, making the black berries and birds pop.  And the quilting itself is a circle or bubble motif, softening all of the pieced angles and mimicing the shape of the printed berries and flowers.

Snapshots of the way one wants things to turn out are tricky though aren't they? In that respect quilting is a metaphor for life I suppose - planning is easy, executing is hard. My plan is to do my very best to ensure that this quilt, and this life, come as close as possible to all of my mental snapshots and ideal plans for the future. I better get to work. 

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The Beginning of a Rosalie Quilt

So I should have called this post: Sewing. Sometimes. On Sundays.
But that wouldn't have been the whole truth. Really I've been planning, washing, ironing, cutting, and just now, finally: Sewing. Sometimes. On Sundays.
What am I sewing? A quilt for my almost 8 year daughter, that's what. She picked these georgeous prints from the Enchino collection by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka some time ago. The black and fuschia prints are aptly called Big Berry, the pale turquoise floral is called Bloom, and the sampler is a Piece print. Smaller triangles are Kona cotton in natural
I've chosen Valori Wells' simple Rosalie quilt pattern, and so far so good. My daughter chose these fabrics from Purl Soho online, and we had no real sense of the scale of the prints before they arrived. Though I love the prints and the quality of the entire Enchino fabric line, I find large scale prints hard to quilt with. After searching and searching for inspiration, I settled on the Rosalie pattern because the larger hexagonal template allows me to fussy cut a nice chunk of these large scale prints, honoring the fabric designer and quilter both. 
Looking at the many hexagons spread out on my attic floor I hope I made the correct design choice.
How do you quilt with large scale prints? Any suggestions?

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Hand Knit Ruffled Summer Top

So here I am, back with another handmade item for our babe, only this time it's a knit. Specifically, it's    
the Ruffled Summer Top by Elena Nodel. Yarn is old cotton vareigated yarn, and remnants of Blue Sky Skinny Cotton from these little handwarmers
I knit the 6 month size, and even though our girl is only 2 months old, it fits perfectly right now. As I knit I realized that this was going to be a wear-right-now-before-she-grows-out-of-it kind of item, so I shortened the sleeves to keep our girl cool, knitting only 4 rounds before creating the ruffle and binding off. 
Overall, I really enjoyed picking up this simple top down knit in my few free moments this week. Tiny knits are just so...well, tiny, that they provide just the right amount of satisfaction in just the right amount of time for me. Kind of like reading a short story rather than a novel on a short trip - just right. 
Oh, I almost forgot, I made the ruffled bloomers as well! I simple added serged ruffles to the Ruby's Bloomers pattern in the Heather Ross's book, Weekend Sewing. Another fast and furious project that delivers a big smile in a small amount of time. 

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Upcycled Fancy Pants by Titchy Threads (0-3 months)

So I'm finally getting around to showing off the wee pair of Fancy Pants Leggings that I made weeks ago for this wee girl of ours.  The Fancy Pants Pattern (by Titchy Threads) is really special because of the many finishing options clearly explained throughout. In fact, the Fancy Pants pattern reads a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, with elastic waist instructions on one page, and knit ribbed waists and ankles on another. The outcome is all up to you. Pick and choose until you have your own perfect ending.

For my perfect ending I chose old children's t-shirts and a long scrap of leftover purple rib knit fabric. Like my Little Kimono Set pants, I skipped all instructions for the ankle hems, and used the bottom hem of a t-shirt instead. For the waist band I went with the ribbed knit option for ease over the bulky cloth diapers we prefer. The result is edgy and sweet all at the same time. Perfect for this girl of ours. 
How will you make your Fancy Pants?

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