Handmade Gifts

Over the past couple of months, I’ve made a lot of gifts for people. My nieces birthdays are in November and then Christmas I made gifts for people and some of those overlapped into January for me to finish them. Then my sister’s birthday is at the end of January. I still have one more thing to get done, but it has to wait… again… I’ve had a shirt cut out for my husband since uh… early 2015….oops.

My nieces are 14 and 7. I had a big dilemma regarding the 14 year old and what to send her for both her birthday and Christmas. I chose to make them both pajama sets for their birthday. Last year for Christmas, I sent all my nieces and nephew pj pants and they went over really well.

For the older niece’s top, I used Lydia #3197 from Burdastyle. I then graded the top down a couple of sizes for a 14 year old. I’ve used the Lydia pattern quite a bit for my Star Trek uniform shirts for the women in my troupe; I made a bunch of them in the fall. The Lydia is a nice basic long sleeve t-shirt and works well; it has nice hip shaping for the curvy among us and is very flattering.


The top is made from white jersey with spandex in it (same fabric from my Simplicity 1812 top). It’s an awesome shirt fabric and has great recovery. It also washes well and doesn’t stain easily. I used my serger for the construction and my machine twin needle for all the topstitching. Although, I was disappointed with the lack of stretch in the twin needle. I think I should have increased my stitch length or used a different width of twin needle.

For the pj pants, I made an XS with the Simplicity free pattern (which isn’t available on their new site since they updated it). It’s the same one I used last year for Christmas. Then I freaked because they looked super small and added a four inch panel to each side. I figured bigger with a drawstring was probably fine. She says they fit okay. Phew.

This picture was taken before I added the panel:


The pj pants are made with super soft blue and green plaid flannel. It was originally a double-sized flat sheet that I got at the thrift store. I used french seams in the whole thing. I hope I have enough of this fabric for a button-up top or a pair of pj pants for me or a top of some sort. I adore it. So soft. Excuse me, I need to go pet this fabric….

For my younger niece’s pj top, I used another Burda pattern: Raglan Tee 03/2014 #138. The pattern is really good. It includes two versions in it (here is the other version). I really love Burda kids patterns. They sew up very easily and fit my niece well.


For the pj pants, I used Livi Stitches’ Avery Lounge Pants. I used the same pattern last year for her pjs, but forgot to talk about it. It’s an easy pattern with lots of sizes included in it. It is unisex and goes from 6-12M for an infant all the way to 12 years for a kid. I will be using this pattern for years to come. The plus about the pattern is that you only need to print the size you are making. Now that does mean there are no nested sizes, unfortunately, but fitting kids is super easy. The sizes are pretty spot on with RTW kids sizes, which is pretty important to me when I make stuff for my niece or anyone else’s kids. They need to be close to RTW or else it is too much guess work and measuring. The pattern also has great options for length and adding cuffs and ruffles. It’s well worth the $5 I paid for it.


Both top and bottom are made with purple cotton ribbing and blue cotton interlock with some machine embroidery detail on the hems of the sleeves, shirt, and pant legs. I tried to top stitch the neckline with it, but it failed and I had to cut off the original neckline and sew on a new one. Worked out fine and made for an even nicer neckline, but I was bummed that I couldn’t use the embroidery stitch there. It was the same flower chain stitch from my green circle skirt. I used my serger for the construction and my machine for top stitching.

20151107_210639 20151107_210504

IMG_20151107_180326 20151108_192218 20151108_154458

Their gifts were fueled by Reese Peanut Butter cups. Yum!

For Christmas, I made two more pj sets for my younger niece. I used the Avery Lounge pants again, but for the top I made a change. My sister informed me that my niece loved her pj set so much, but that she didn’t really wear long sleeve tops to bed. I found a free pattern for a kid’s tank top for sizes 3-8.

20151214_174705 IMG_20151212_201911  20151214_172559

20151214_174607 20151214_174644 20151214_172615

One pj set includes a pink tank top made with poly rayon spandex jersey and fleece cupcake print fabric. Both are from Fabricland. Since Fabricland moved into Honest Ed’s at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor here in Toronto, I’ve been visiting there about once every month or two. It’s easier to navigate than the other fabric stores in the Fashion District and often has good sales. I am still frequenting King Textiles, Neveruns, and Affordable Textiles every once in a while, but Fabricland is also part of my rotation. Findings, notions, and trims are still kind of expensive at Fabricland. I find more of a price difference in the knit fabrics. Knit fabrics in the Fashion District are a little on the pricey side. The other advantage to a chain store is the sales. The independent places rarely have sales and their marked down stuff is pretty low quality sometimes dusty as anything from streetcar dust on Queen St or sun bleached. It’s pretty disappointing. It’s nice to get bigger discounts at Fabricland. I’ve been avoiding shopping online since the Canadian dollar is not doing well at all. Sadly, even the Black Friday and post-Christmas sales were too expensive for me after the exchange rate and shipping. I’m hoping the dollar is on par again soon. I have done some online shopping, but only for bramaking stuff.

All of this is to say that the cost of my niece’s outfit here was really low. Less than ten bucks and I get a shirt or two for myself out of the pink fabric. I’ve picked up different colours for myself.

The other fabrics for the second set are the same purple cotton ribbing from her birthday set and a flower power flannel both from the thrift store. It’s nice to stay on budget for the holidays for once! Thank goodness for my local thrift store.

20151214_174908 20151214_174926

20151212_215345 20151214_174943

My older niece got a choice for her Christmas present, because my sister informed me she didn’t need anymore pj pants. I gave her the choice of either True Bias’s Hudson pants (which I hadn’t made before but I thought would be a good choice for a sporty teen) or a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress (my version was made for Jungle January last year). She was okay with either and gave the choice to me so I decided on the Violet dress, because I had made it previously and enjoyed the process. I used black poly rayon spandex fabric from Fabricland. Are you sensing that I love this fabric? This one was a little different: more lightweight fabric with a texture to it. I hope my camera picked that up okay for you in the picture below. It’s a lovely fabric and obviously I got enough to make myself a top.


I did the neckline construction a little different than the instructions. I let the elastic gathering create the v-neck after I put the band on in the round. I had a bit of a messy neckline before so I wanted a nice professional one for this dress. The hem is finished with my serger.


I can report that it fits her really well. I’m not going to share her picture, but it does look great!


I also added some coffee beans to the package for my sister and brother-in-law and dressed them up like Rudolph. 🙂


When I was chatting with my sister over the holidays, she asked in the most adorable way if I could make her a pair of pj pants. I think she might have gotten a little jealous of all the things I made the kids.

Instead of using the free Simplicity pattern for the pj pants, I wanted her to feel super special and give her a fancier pair. I went with Sewaholic’s Tofino pants for her, because I love the piping detail. I also knew the sizing would be a better choice since my sister is a pear shape.

I got the pdf version of the pattern. It was very easy to tape together. I had no issues with that at all. The instructions were really simple to follow. Definitely a great pattern. I’m a bit of a Sewaholic fan and would love to make more of their patterns in the future. I’m a little busty for them, though… But they are really nicely drafted patterns. Their current sizing is close to my measurements, except in the bust obviously. Tofino pants only go up to size 16, but I am confident on grading them up to a 20 or 22 for myself will work. I definitely want to make myself some in the future.

For my sister’s pants, I made size 12, but cut a size 10 elastic for the waistband. I made piping using red and white striped cotton fabric and a piece of yarn for the cording. I am a DIY queen when it comes to piping. Yarn as the centre works just fine for me!


Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to always match the stripes accurately, but I didn’t really fuss over that. With piping, it’s such a small band that shows and these are pj pants after all. My sister isn’t going to hang me for that small infraction.

The fabric I used is another thrift store find and was during a 40% off sale at the thrift store. I got it for $2.50. I received the elastic as a gift and the striped cotton was leftover scraps from my Nautical M6696 dress. Sending it to her in the mail cost more than the whole thing.


She didn’t care that the fabric was Christmas themed at all. It’s super soft. Maybe not quite as soft as the plaid flannel at the top of this post, but so very close. Excuse me while I go pet this fabric…


Construction took about 2.5 hours in total even with making all that piping. I like that the waistband is a separate piece. I like the panels and the deep hem.


I topstitched the piping down to make sure the seam didn’t bother her while she slept.


I shortened the pants about 3 inches, because we are a family of shorties. The deep hem also means that if they are too short for her taste, she can bring that hem down. 3 inches is my standard shortening process.

Another item I made that was so late was for my friend, Lyndsey, who freaked when I posted my Gryffindor cardigan in such a cute way that I offered to make her one.


Here it is before the buttons were on. I made the same size 48 I made myself for the Sophie Cardigan using the same fabric and buttons. The only difference is that the patch was slightly different. I, of course, totally neglected to take a picture of it.

The second last gift I made is one I refuse to take a picture of, because it was boxers for my husband. I’m not showing you his underwear. I made 6 pairs.

I will report, however, that the boxer shorts pattern in Simplicity 2741 is great. I made a size L and the fit is spot on. Although, I did need to increase the crotch curve. And that is all I am saying about that.

The final thing I made was a Slytherin cardigan for my husband using M6803 in size XXL.


I used a polyester knit in grey and a dark forest green. I also got metal buttons and a patch from ebay.


The pattern is great. Fit is great and he likes it.


The only thing I did differently with the pattern was install the pockets more like my Sophie cardigan. Instead of making them a patch slightly above the band, I put them along the band and sewing up the bottom when I sewed on the band. Makes for a cleaner look, but the pockets are rather low. I might increase their height if I make this again.

I had so many requests for Harry Potter cardigans that I think I need to get some more patches!

I still have one more non-selfish gift to get to, but I have bras to do first.

This post covers 18 handmade gifts. I think I finally understand why I haven’t been posting much in the past two months……… Let’s celebrate with cake!

IMG_20151128_122834 IMG_20160116_163026

Mmmm cake./sleeps forever




Rawr! Jungle January Snakerific Violet Dress


Wait, snakes don’t rawr….uh…..




Um……… *awkward*

I really love this dress. Not only is it the first project I made with my new serger, Rochester (I posted the other one out of order of making things), but it’s also a fabulous dress. This is a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress. You might recognize the red fabric from my recent Bronte top (which I can’t stop wearing and am working on making 500 more). I picked up the funky snake print jersey from the thrift store. I thought this snake print was perfect for Pretty Grievance’s Jungle January. :)There was also another snake print stretch material, but it wasn’t as good of quality. I still bought it, of course. I can’t say no to fabric. It might appear on the blog one day, but I am sticking to my plans for the next block of time, because I have to stay focused and get that wedding dress done, too. 🙂

Oh and those gloves were made for a costume long ago. Wolf gloves with claws!


Back to the dress, because I digress…

DSC_0785 DSC_0786 DSC_0788

I made a straight size 24 with no alterations for fit whatsoever and am extremely pleased with the fit. BDG drafts for a D cup so I knew that it could handle a great deal of boob, of which I have. I am more than a D cup, but hey….no one in the pattern drafting world thinks beyond a D and certainly won’t draft for my HH. D cup drafting often works okay for me, especially with stretchy material patterns. The only thing that is perhaps an issue with being an HH in a D cup dress is how low the V-neck goes. I think I will be raising the neckline in future versions, which honestly isn’t an issue at all.

Construction of the dress went really well. Rochester wasn’t cranky at all. There are some parts I used Jane Eyre’s delicate touch on rather than Rochester’s cutting speed. The pattern has you put in clear elastic in the shoulders and in the waist line. I used Jane for those steps, as well as the neckline, but elsewhere I used Rochester.

DSC_0800 DSC_0802

I did change the way the dress is constructed, because it didn’t make sense to me. The instructions have you sew the sleeves in the flat. Rather than sewing the sleeves together, you leave them flat and then sew them into the armscye, which is also flat. Basically, you sew the front and back bodice at the shoulders and then put the sleeves in and sew up the sides and in the same line sew up the sleeves. Gillian has a better tutorial on this, which explains things far better than I can. Basically, this method is great for knits, which have a tendency to slip when sleeves are set in the round. I use this method for most of my sleeve setting. Back to the pattern. The instructions have you do the sleeves in the flat and then you sew up the bodice/sleeves, then you sew the skirt pieces together, and install the bodice to the skirt in the round. Well, being me, I wanted to do it a better and faster way. Instead, I sewed the sleeves in the flat, then sewed the bodice front to the skirt front and the bodice back to the skirt back, and then sewed the entire side seams from skirt bottom to sleeve end and it came out perfectly. The only thing you have to do because you are changing up the method is to slightly stretch the bodice waist to fit the skirt. It’s very little stretching and makes for a better fitted waistband area in my opinion.


The other thing I did extra was add in pockets, because I do that in almost everything I make. I have a standard pocket pattern I use. I think it’s from the Colette’s Moneta, but enlarged for smart phone usage. I’ve been using it for over a year now so I can’t quite remember where I got it, but I know I enlarged it, because phones.

The pockets went in okay….I used my serger. There were some issues turning for the pockets. Jane Eyre stepped in for the bottom of the pocket where it meets the skirt seam, luckily. Rochester was just too clunky for that bit.

I had major issues with the neckband, but I’m not super skilled at v-necks for knits. They are slightly tricky. I also think I cut mine too long based on the stretch in my red material, because it’s a little loose, especially at the back. Next time, I will account for that or use rib knit. I find rib knit is easier to install for neckbands anyway. At least I found that for my Jenna cardis.


The whole dress was cut and sewn in a few hours on Thursday night last week.

I’ve sewn a ton this year (7 things!) and it’s only the end of January. It’s crazy to me how productive I am being! I have one more to share with you tomorrow and then I will slow down for a bit. I’ve got a wedding dress muslin to focus on next week. I might have other stuff sewn next week, but I want to start looking for material for the dress so that means the muslin has to be perfect before I start thinking about material. I also need to know how much I need.

DSC_0794 DSC_0793 DSC_0783

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Bluegingerdoll Violet Dress
  • Pros: Great opportunity for colour blocking and lovely lines. Definitely a more interesting take on the skater-style dress.
  • Cons: Barely any. A technical thing about PDFs: the instructions print off wonky for them and they are pretty hard to read. I’m not a fan of the style of BGD’s PDF instructions, but the PDFs go together really well. I don’t quite understand why the whole dress isn’t sewn in the flat rather than the instructions directions to sew the skirt and then sew the bodice and then sew them together. Since the elastic is already on the dress, it seems a lot easier to sew the front skirt to the bodice front and the back skirt to the bodice back, sew the sleeves in the flat, and then sew up the sides from the skirt along the bodice and then end with the sleeves. Way easier method.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I’m in love.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars