Author: Jess

I sew, I mom, I wife, I drink coffee.

Preparing for Baby: Portable Diaper Changing Mat Tutorial

We’re preparing for baby number five over here, and while we have most of the big things, there are a few things I’ve had on my to-make list. Somewhere along the line, I lost our portable diaper changing mat, and I really missed it with my fourth baby! And since you spend about thirty trillion hours changing a baby’s diapers, I had to make a new one.
Portable Changing Mat Tutorial

 

I just hit my third trimester, and I’m in full baby prep. I still have a ways to go before baby arrives, but you just never know when he will arrive! So I’m stocking up on everything we might need: clean onesies, pacifiers, nursing pads, and of course, DIAPERS!

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When it comes to a portable changing pad, I wanted to have something that I could grab from my diaper bag and have everything I need. I don’t always like to take the diaper bag everywhere, so having a pocket for diapers and wipes was very important to me.

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One side of the changing mat is waterproof PUL (I also used that when making this wet bag), the other is cotton, with a layer of fleece in between.

Supplies:

  • 1 piece of cotton, fleece, and PUL fabric, each cut about 29x12in. (You can change this to suit your needs, of course)
  • 1/2in wide double fold bias tape, approx. 66in.
  • 1 small lingerie bag
  • KAM snaps
  • 1 button
  • 1 small piece of 1/8in. elastic
  • pins or Wonder Clips

1. Cut your three pieces of fabric to about 29x12in. My PUL was not long enough, so I pieced it together to get my desired length.

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2. Stack all three layers together. The fleece should be sandwiched between the cotton and PUL. The wrong sides of the PUL and cotton should be facing the fleece. Fold the fabrics in thirds as shown:

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3. Decide where you want your snaps to go – these will hold your mat closed. Unfold one third and mark where you’ll place your snaps.

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4. Apply your snaps. The snap in the PUL layer should ONLY go through the PUL. The snap on the cotton should ONLY go through cotton and fleece.

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5. Round out the four corners of ALL layers.

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6. Clip or pin the layers together.

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7. Take your lingerie bag and cut a few inches off the bottom (this will depend on how long your bag is and how large you’d like your pocket – you want it to be no bigger than 1/3 of your changing mat)

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8. Lay the lingerie bag down on top of the cotton side of your mat – the end WITHOUT the snap. Cut around the edges to round it to the same shape. You will cut off a small bit of the zipper on each side, so make sure your zipper is open slightly.

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9. Sew a small loop of elastic to the center of your lingerie bag (don’t sew onto your changing mat fabric, though!!)

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10. Hand sew one button onto the cotton/fleece fabrics. Do NOT sew through to the PUL.

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11. Now begin sewing on the bias tape around the edges. The bias tape and the mat should be right sides together. Fold 1/4in of your bias tape back as shown, and begin stitching it down along the first fold.

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12. Sew all the way around, taking care to sew the edges of the lingerie bag too, until the ends of the bias tape overlap 1/4-1/2in.

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13. Now fold the bias tape over the raw edge of the mat, clipping or pinning it together. Stitch it down carefully.

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Now you have a changing mat with two pockets, ready to be stuffed!

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Here it is, folded up and stuffed to the max with Huggies diapers, Huggies wipes, and anything else we might need.

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Over the years, we’ve used just about every type of Huggies diaper there is – we currently have kids wearing Good Nites to bed and one nearly-completely-but-not-entirely potty trained kiddo using the occasional Pull-Ups. And in a few months, we’ll be adding a newborn to the mix. Goodness…. so. many. diapers. I’m so thankful for diaper coupons!!

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Your Walmart Neighborhood Market has coupons for Huggies Diapers and Wipes, because with as many diapers as these babies use, we could all use a few coupons! But Walmart Neighborhood Markets have great prices to begin with, so the coupons are a bonus.

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I forgot how teeny baby diapers are! Eek!!

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Is it weird to be excited about changing diapers again?? Probably. ;)

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I love that I have a portable changing mat again! It will be perfect for throwing in the diaper bag or stroller and giving me a nice clean, soft surface to change baby wherever we are.

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Before I know it, there will be a real baby lying on that mat!

Portable Diaper Changing Mat Tutorial

Another Basketball Jersey!

Another day, another basketball jersey! My oldest participated in a library reading program a couple months ago that sent him to see the Milwaukee Bucks for free. His first NBA game! He was SO ridiculously over the moon, but he didn’t have any Bucks gear. I couldn’t let this happen, so I whipped up another DIY Basketball Jersey for him to wear!
Another DIY Basketball Jersey

This one was a little easier, since it’s made of knit. I didn’t have to modify the neck at all, and I didn’t add a side panel.

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I took the shoulders in a little bit more than the one I made of mesh. And since the original pattern has the yoke and sleeves all in one piece, I rounded out the armscye to make an actual hole for the arm to go through.DSC_6467 copy

This pattern goes up to a size 8, which was perfect for my skinny man, with a couple inches added for length.

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It’s super easy to add heat transfer vinyl (affiliate link) to knit, so I asked him the number of his favorite player and used the number templates that come with the pattern. Just don’t ask me who the player is… I have no idea!

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Two jerseys down… probably at least 30 more to go in my lifetime! ;)

DIY Basketball Tutorial and Pattern Hack

Back in March, my boys were gearing up for March Madness and we were living and breathing basketball around here. My boys are huge basketball fans, and my four-year-old is always stealing his older brother’s Wisconsin jersey. So I made him his own! I grabbed my copy of the Just a Jersey T-shirt pattern from Blank Slate Patterns and hacked it into a basketball jersey.DIY Basketball Jersey

This pattern is designed for knits, but I used an athletic mesh fabric without any stretch. Before putting the pattern together, I widened the neck and lengthened the neckband to account for the lack of stretch. (And I made sure it would fit over my son’s head before I sewed it all together – don’t skip that important step!)

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The Just a Jersey pattern has sleeves built into the yoke, but I wanted the jersey to be sleeveless. To do this I simply cut off the pattern piece after the seam allowance notch (where you’d sew down the side seams).

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After sewing the yoke, neckband, and the front and back pieces, I also wanted contrasting side panels. To do this, leave about an inch free on either end, when sewing the front and back pieces on (you can see that on the red fabric above). Cut a side panel that was the same length as the front and back pieces. Then cut out a scoop for the armhole.

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Sew one side of the side panel to the back piece.

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Then line up the yoke and back pieces, and finish sewing across through to the side panel. Repeat with the other side of the side panel and again with the next side panel. Fold the raw edge of the armhole under and hem.DSC_6063 copy

I had hoped to add a number to the front and back of the jersey with heat transfer vinyl, but I could NOT get the vinyl to stick to the athletic mesh. But we can still root for our Badgers without it. ;)

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All my little basketball loving boys are asking for their own jersey now, so it’s a good thing I ordered lots of this fabric!

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This jersey has gotten a lot of wear in the last few months, and now it’s the perfect lightweight shirt for summer!

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Hooray for sewing!

Patriotic Ice Cream Cones

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so we are all about the red, white, and blue to celebrate Independence Day! And what better way to celebrate than with family and ice cream? That pretty much sounds perfect to me (and to the baby in my belly!) – and fitting, since July is National Ice Cream Month! We’re adding a little red, white, and blue to our ice cream to make some Patriotic Ice Cream Cones, perfect for the 4th of July. Or anytime, if I’m being honest. ;) Patriotic Ice Cream Cones

 

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We’re big on ice cream in our house, and a little particular about what we buy! I like the good stuff. Kemps has these new flavors that are soooo good. We tried Mint Cow Tracks, Caramel Cow Tracks, and Caramel Fudge Cow Tracks.

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Oh. My. Goodness. All the heart eyes for these flavors! I maaaay have had two bowls after coming home from the grocery store. Maybe.

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The kids and I made used our Kemps ice cream to make patriots ice cream cones, which were quick and easy. And with different colored sprinkles, they’d be perfect for any holiday or special occasion.

Supplies:

  • chocolate melting wafers
  • ice cream cones
  • red, white, and blue sprinkles (or whatever color you want to use!)
  • two small bowls
  • Kemps Ice Cream

1.Melt the chocolate in a shallow bowl according to the package instructions. Pour some sprinkles into another shallow bowl.

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2. Coat the edges of the ice cream cone with melted chocolate. I found it best to leave it in there for a minute and coat it quite thoroughly.

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3. Dip the chocolate covered cone in the sprinkles.
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Oooohhh, looking so good already, right??

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4. Fill up the cones with your Kemps ice cream! Use a small spoon to push it into the cone so that you don’t knock the sprinkles off.

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These cones are filled with Caramel Chocolate Cow Tracks and Caramel Chocolate Cow Tracks …. SO yummy!

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And then EAT IT UP!

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The boys were SO excited to eat these. And honestly, it was really hard to choose a favorite flavor. Though if I’m forced to choose, the Mint Cow Tracks is my pick.

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The boys were divided over which flavor was best – half voted for the Carmel Cow Tracks, the others said Chocolate Caramel Cow Tracks. But really, they’d take any of the flavors. ;)

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This is pretty much the perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July – eating ice cream together!

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Now how about some free ice cream?? Visit the Kemps website to check out these seriously delicious flavors. Then come back and leave a comment with your favorite flavor. I’ll draw 5 winners from the comments to each win a $5 off coupon – so five winners get free ice cream so you can find your favorite flavor! Yum :)

Surfer Tank – FREE tank top pattern!

Today I’m over at Our Chez Nous, helping Julie celebrate Boy Sewing Week! We all know how much I love sewing for boys, so I couldn’t pass this one up. Head over there to hear my thoughts on summer wear for boys. And as part of Boy Sewing Week, I have a free tank top pattern to share! The Surfer Tank is available in sizes 3-6. While it’s drafted for boys, you may find it appropriate for your girls too!Surfer Tank

The Surfer Tank is a pretty quick sew. I sewed these three tanks, as well as the three pairs of shorts in the picture, in a day and a half (while somehow managing to not ignore my children in the process ;)

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It’s been pretty warm lately, with a few really HOT and humid days, so my boys have been in need of some more tank tops.

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For this pattern, you’ll want to use a knit fabric that isn’t super thin. While that’s comfortable to wear, that can make the binding trickier to sew, so I don’t recommend it. Because the tank is a slightly looser fit, you can use a knit that has between 10-30% stretch. You can use ribbing for the bindings, but I like to use a fabric that’s similar to what the tank is made of.

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Are you so excited to sew a Surfer Tank?! :)

Download your FREE Surfer Tank Pattern here

1.Cut out the front and back of the tank top – these will use the same pattern piece, but the front of the tank will use the lower neckline.

2. Put the front and back pieces right side together. Sew the shoulders together.

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3. Sew down the side seams.

4. Cut out the binding pieces. Measure around the armscye/neckline. Take 85% of that number to get the length of your binding. The stretch of the fabric should go lengthwise. (If your fabric is super stretchy or a lot stretchier than the main fabric, you may have to use 80%) Each piece should be 1 1/4in. wide. Take the bindings pieces and fold them right sides together, sewing the short ends together.

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5. With right sides together, pin the binding to the armscye/neckline. You will slightly stretch the binding.

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6. Serge or zig-zag the fabrics together.

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7. If you are not using a coverstitch, you will bring the binding to the wrong side of the dress, folding the raw edge under. Use a double needle to stitch it in place.

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If you are using a coverstitch, it’s not necessary to fold the raw edge under.

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Repeat these steps with both armholes and the neckline.

8. Hem the bottom of the tank top using a 1/2in. hem.

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And show off those pipes!!

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My boys are ready for summer fun in their Surfer Tanks!

Download your FREE Surfer Tank pattern here

8 Sewing Tools You Need to Have

Every seamstress needs the right tools to get the job done. Whether you’re cutting fabric, putting together patterns, or adding snaps, you’ll need at least a few tools to help you complete your projects. I’ve compiled a list of 8 sewing tools you need to have.8 Sewing Tools You Need to Have

This post contains affiliate links

1. Scissors: you can’t sew without scissors. From cutting fabric to snipping threads, the right scissors are important! I reach for my Gingher shears most often. So often, in fact, that I have two pairs on my cutting table. You also need a pair of sharp scissors for snipping threads close to the fabric. Embroidery scissors work great for this. There are lots of other scissors I use, but these are definitely the must-haves. Sidenote: don’t let anyone cut paper with your sewing scissors! They will dull very quickly.

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2. Rotary cutters: If you want to cut your fabric out quickly or you’re cutting many pieces at once, a rotary cutter will help immensely! I have three different sizes of rotary cutters: 18mm, 28mm, and 45mm. I use my large rotary cutter most often, but the smaller ones are great for curves and notches, especially in kids’ clothing. I have the blue one because it’s blue… and pretty. Priorities. ;) If you’re using a rotary cutter, you’ll also need a cutting mat to cut on, so you don’t slice up your table. A clear ruler is also super helpful for making straight cuts.

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3. Magnetic pin holder: now some might argue with me about this one, but for me a magnetic pin holder is a must. It’s super easy to grab pins and also drop them while you’re sewing. Mine is made by a local artisan, but there are many different kinds available. I use a pincushion as well, but I keep this right by my sewing machine so that as I pull pins out, I can toss them on here and know they won’t end up on the floor for little feet to find.

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4. Seam rippers: As you sew, so shall you rip. Every seamstress makes mistakes or needs to re-fit a garment and a seam ripper is essential to taking out your seams without destroying your fabric. My seam ripper and I are good… friends ;) … so I have three with a comfy handle. I somehow always seem to misplace mine when I need it, so having multiples keeps me sane.

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5. Wonder Clips: some fabrics shouldn’t be pinned (like leather) and many layers of fabric can be bulky. Wonder Clips are wonderful (see what I did there?? ;) for holding fabric together when pinning isn’t a good option.

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6. Glue sticks: They’re more than just school supplies! Glue sticks are perfect for assembling patterns and even keeping hems or seams in place in a pinch. If you’re going to use it often for fabric and sewing over it, however, I’d get a glue that’s specifically designed for sewing. But regular glue stick is perfect for pattern piecing!

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7. Kam Snaps and Pliers: Buttonholes can be scary and time-consuming to a beginning seamstress, so snaps are a fantastic alternative! Kam Snaps are super easy to install and can be used for SO many things. Kids’ clothing, diapers, accessories, etc. Even experienced seamstresses know how useful a tool snaps can be!

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8. Sewing machines: The last tool (or tools) that a seamstress needs, obviously, is a sewing machine. You can, of course, sew by hand. But if you want to sew garments and bags, you’ll need a good machine. My main sewing machine is a Juki HZL-F400. I’ve had it for less than a year, but I couldn’t be happier with it. The knee pedal alone is a game-changer! This baby has sewn through multiple layers of thick fabric, handles denim no problem, and has even sewn through thick jute rope! Along with my main machine, I have a serger and a coverstitch machine. If you want to sew clothing, these are a great investment – especially if you want to sew knits! Not sure what they do? Look at the inside of a T-shirt you bought at the store: those seams and the hem are done with a serger and a coverstitch. If you don’t have either, start with a serger.

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There are so many tools you can use as a seamstress – and trust me, I have many more ;) – but these are definitely tools that you need to have in your sewing room! What are your favorite sewing tools??

8 Sewing Tools You Need

Keeping the Kids Busy This Summer

Summer has officially begun, and you may be thinking of ways to keep your kiddos busy. We use screens really sparingly around here, but sometimes I just want something quick to occupy my boys. And if I don’t have something on hand, it’s super easy to fall back on iPads and Netflix. That’s why I’m so glad to have this Boredom Buster Kit from Andrea’s Notebook.

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This post contains affiliate links.

There are SO many different activities in this kit! Some of the activities require some additional craft supplies, but many of them are just print and go. And there’s such a wide variety of choices!boredom-busters-sales-image

After scrolling through the activities, I chose the Fill-in-the-Blank stories from the Creative Kit. I knew that my oldest would love this one, because it’s done MadLibs style.

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There are several stories to choose from, and the instructions are clear enough that your kids can do them on their own. One page is just for the words, so they fill it out without looking at the story. Adjectives, people, emotions, etc.

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Then they transfer the words over to the corresponding spot in the story. Sidenote: I love how bold and colorful these pages are! Fun and bright, just like summer!

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The giggles have begun!

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Have your kiddos read the story aloud to you, and watch as they laugh at their silly story!! Seriously, we had SO much fun with these!

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And share it with siblings, of course. These two would not.stop.laughing! I remember how much I loved these things as a kid, and they haven’t lost their appeal even now! Each story also has an additional activity that goes along with it – this one has your kiddo draw the silly robot they wrote about in the story.

Check out all the different activities that come in the Boredom Buster Kit:

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Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st

Buy Now!

You can buy the entire Boredom Buster Kit
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or you can purchase only the Adventure Kit

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Or you can purchase just the Creative Kit.

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Personally, I’m glad to have both kits, because the Adventure Kit is more outdoor activities and the Creative is more indoor – so some are great for getting outside in the summer sun, others are perfect for some downtime inside when it’s hot or rainy. Plus, there’s a bonus Reading Kit you can add on. This is full of printable book review pages, reading logs, library lists, bookmarks to color, and more. My boys love to read, so we are definitely going to use these!

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Once he had completed the first fill-in-the-blank story, my son asked for another and wouldn’t stop until we had gone through them all! It will be super fun to print these out again to do another version of these silly stories. After we do some of the other activities in the kit, of course. I’ve already printed out the story cubes from the Creative Kit, and they’re ready to go when the boredom strikes!

Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st
Buy Now!
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Buy Now!

Racerback Maxi Dress FREE pattern and tutorial

Today I’m so excited to be a part of 30 Days of Sundresses series at Melly Sews! I participated last year, and this year I’m bringing you a free pattern and tutorial for a racerback maxi dress that is super comfy and early maternity friendly! But if you aren’t pregnant, don’t worry – baby bellies are not required. ;)Free Racerback Maxi Dress Pattern

Knit dresses are easy to wear at this stage in pregnancy, because a maternity dress isn’t always necessary. I certainly won’t be able to wear this into my third trimester, but I’ll be able to wear it next summer when I’m not pregnant anymore!

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The racerback is so fun for summer!

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Notes on Size: This dress pattern comes in one size, and it is comparable to a ready-to-wear medium. The bust is between a 36-37in. But keep in mind that it’s a knit dress, so you may be able to fudge it a little with the right kind of fabric. I am 5’3 (and a half ;) and I made the dress an inch longer than is good for me, with a 1in. hem. So keep this in mind in case you are taller and want to lengthen your dress.

You will need to use knit fabric that has at least 30% stretch. This is super important. (If you’re a little smaller than a medium, though, you could probably get away with a knit with less stretch) I made one with about 10% stretch and it was a stretch (ha! pun intended!) to fit into it. This dress -without a baby belly- is intended to have a looser fit and not be skin tight, which is why you want more stretch.

Now let’s sew!

1.Download your FREE If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern. Cut out your fabric. The pattern includes a 1/4in. seam allowance unless otherwise noted. *Make sure you download or export this pattern to your desktop so that you can print it from Adobe Reader*

2. Place your front and back pieces right sides together. Sew both the shoulders together.DSC_6927 copy

3. Sew down one side of the dress from armpit to bottom with a zig-zag stitch or using a serger. Then sew down the other side, stopping at around 26in. from the armpit. (This is where you are going to create the side slit – I put mine on the left side of my dress, but you can choose whichever you prefer – or both sides!) I used a serger, so I serged off the edge of my dress.

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4. Sew a straight stitch about three to four inches with a 3/8in. seam allowance.

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5. Serge or zig-zag the edges of the fabric from where you left off with your serging/zig-zag until slightly past your straight stitch. (If you choose not to do this, it will be fine, because knit does not fray. But it will look much nicer, especially with a serger) Press this open, all the way down to the hem.

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6. There are two ways you can finish this side slit. You can use a coverstitch (affiliate link – this is what I use and SO highly recommend!! :) Or you can use a double needle. If you don’t use a coverstitch, you may wish to serge the raw edge of the fabric all the way to the bottom.
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7. Fold the bottom up to your desired length and hem with a coverstitch or double needle. I use a 1in hem.

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8. Make your arm and neck bindings. Measure your neckline and armscyes – your bindings should be 85% of these lengths. The stretch of the fabric should go lengthwise. The width of these bindings can be between 1 and 1 1/4in. (I’ll explain which I prefer and why in step 11). Sew the short ends right sides together.

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9. With right sides together, pin the binding to the armscye/neckline. You will slightly stretch the binding.

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10. Serge or zig-zag the fabrics together.

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11. If you are not using a coverstitch, I recommend cutting your binding 1 1/4in. wide. You will bring the binding to the wrong side of the dress, folding the raw edge under. Use a double needle to stitch it in place.

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If you are using a coverstitch, I prefer to use a 1in. wide binding, because it’s not necessary to fold the raw edge under.

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Now you have a lovely racerback maxi to wear all summer long!

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I really think that I could wear knit maxis everyday, because it kind of feels like wearing your jammies all day in this dress! Quick note: I lowered the armscye slightly after taking these pictures.

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This dress is super quick to sew, but watch out – it’s addicting! I already made another and have a third partially sewn. I also included a cut line for making your racerback a shirt instead of a dress. I’ll share a tank top version hopefully later this week!

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Don’t forget to download your free If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern, whether or not you’re sporting a baby belly. ;)

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Happy sewing! Make sure you check out the other lovely sundresses as part of the 30 Days of Sundresses series!

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Something New is Coming….

Or rather, someone. ;)

Blog Baby Announcement

This October we will be welcoming baby number five into our home! We are so excited to bring this new little miracle into the world. We’ll be finding out the baby’s gender later this month, but I’ll refer you to this post if you’re wondering my thoughts on possibly having a fifth boy. ;)

So get ready for more teeny tiny baby sewing!

Essential Oil Travel Case Tutorial

I’m an essential oil girl. I love having a natural alternative for taking charge of my family’s health. But when I leave the house, I throw them in my purse, and they just end up rolling around at the bottom. I needed a way to safely carry them – and find them – when I’m on the go. So I sewed up this Essential Oil Travel Case, and they’re super easy to make!Essential Oil Travel Case Tutorial

This post contains some affiliate links. Purchases made won’t cost you any more, but make me a small commission to run this site and help my family. Thanks for your support!

Supplies:

  • Fat quarter of woven fabric
  • Scrap of quilt batting
  • KAM snaps
  • Sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.

**This makes a travel case that perfectly fits 5ml bottles. If you want to make one for 15 ml bottles, you will need to alter the size by lengthening the short side of the fabric.

1.Cut two pieces of woven fabric 10in x 5 in. Also cut one piece of quilt batting the same size.

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2. Place the fabric right sides together, with the quilt batting against one wrong side. Zig-zag around all sides, leaving a small opening on one side. Clip the corners.

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3. Turn the fabric right side out. Press and topstitch around all four sides, closing the opening you left for turning.

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4. Fold the bottom of the fabric up about 3/4 of the way. This will create your pockets. Using your essential oil bottles as your guide, pin between the bottles and pin/clip the fabric together at each end. *You want to leave extra fabric at each end, as shown in the picture, for your snaps.

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5. Stitch down where you pinned, to make your pockets. Also stitch down the fabric ends.

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*You will have an extra “pocket” at each end that is too small for an oil bottle. This is important!

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6. Attach your snaps, one at each end, in that extra space. I use a KAM snap pliers to attach my snaps.

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Now slide your oils in, and you’re ready to go!

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Roll it up, snap it, and toss it in your purse.

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This case is a really fast sew (I think I made it in 30 minutes, including the time to take pictures), and so practical! The quilt batting gives your oils a little cushion, and the pockets keep them snugly in place.

Essential Oil Travel Case

No more digging around in the bottom of your purse (amongst the raisin boxes, old receipts, and baby wipes) to find the one you need!

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This really is the perfect travel accessory!

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At least there will be one aspect of my purse that’s organized. ;)

DIY Essential Oil Travel Case

purse: Better Than Basic Bag by Sew Fearless
wallet: Cozy Cameras
sunglasses: Target

*I use Young Living essential oils. If you’d like more information or are interested in purchasing, click here or email me at ifonlytheywouldnap@gmail.com*