Striped Birthday Tank

Boy number three turned four yesterday. To celebrate, I made him a striped tank.

striped tank 1

The tank is self-drafted and upcycled from an XL men’s tank top.

striped tank 6

The stripes on this tank are so rad. I love finding t-shirts on clearance to use as fabric, because sometimes you can find some fabulous prints that you can’t find elsewhere.

striped tank 4

Tanks are quick and easy; I made this one in less than 20 minutes – including a serger re-thread!

striped tank 5

He loves this tank so much, he insisted on sleeping in it as well. Point one for mama-made!

striped tank 7

I used ribbing for the neckline and coverstitched the armholes. You can get this same effect with a double needle.striped tank 8
I love four. When they’re really out of toddler-hood, but not quite a kid. You can reason with them, but they still curl in your lap and need you to kiss their owies. So perfect. :)

Happy sewing, friends!


The Easiest, Coziest Pillow Cover Ever: a Tutorial

Sometimes life is funny… like how you blog about listening to your body and taking more naps. Then you come down with the stomach flu and have to stay in bed Funny or … not so funny?

Today was a slow day of recovery. But since I was bored silly yesterday [I actually got sick of Netflix… who knew that could happen?], I needed to sew today. Need. Rather than clean the house. Because obviously sewing is much more important.

Awhile back, I made these pillows. They’re still on my couch. And after seeing Andrea’s super cute Christmas pillows, I realized they don’t quite fit the change in seasons.

So, after raiding my to-be-upcycled sweater stash [which is quite large, if you must know], I now have a pillow that took me about 10 minutes to make.


  • Button-up sweater [pick a fuzzy one for maximum coziness]
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread

1. Lay out your sweater. Using your pillow form, decide where you should cut your sweater. This will depend on how big the sweater is to start with. This one is a crop-length sweater, so it’s going to make a smaller pillow.

2. Cut your sweater to fit the pillow form, keeping the buttons buttoned. My sweater was the perfect width, so I only had to make one cut, underneath the armpits. [If you cut unevenly like *ahem* I did, you can easily fix that when you’re sewing. Plus, no one will really notice, as sweaters are stretchy and forgiving of mistakes!]

3. Turn the sweater inside out [keeping it buttoned]. Sew across the top and the bottom. Note: in the picture above, the sweater is not inside out. If your sweater is too wide, you will also have to sew up the other sides.

4. Turn the sweater right side out, unbutton, insert your pillow form, and re-button. Now cozy up with some kind of hot drink and a good book. Or maybe clean the house first. Maybe.

Comfy Overalls – the Naptime Pants!

Little boys wearing overalls. Seriously, can it get any cuter?

Well, he is my kid, so I’m probably biased.

But the one problem I have with overalls is that most of them are denim with all these buckles and whatnot – which aren’t always super comfortable for baby taking a nap. [and a no-napping baby makes for a no-happy mama]

So I made a super comfy pair of jersey knit overalls for my little guy.

I added some simple embroidered stars in yellow and orange – not blue, on the off chance [fat chance?] baby number four is a girl.

The T-shirt underneath is upcycled from a shirt that I loved in college and couldn’t bear to part with. And now I don’t have to. It ended up a little big [which is what you get for sewing and not measuring during naptime!], but this way it will last through the long, LONG winter.

I’m going to tweak my overall pattern a bit, because it didn’t turn out exactly how I pictured in my head. But hey – I did my first snap-crotch! [and seriously, can someone please tell me something else I could call that?]

Here’s to stripes and overalls that make babies nap! Or something like that…

Upcycled Elephant Costume Tutorial

Have you made your kids’ Halloween costumes yet?! I’m usually such a procrastinator. I probably would still be sewing if not for Andrea’s fabulous Handmade Costume Series. [check it out – over 65 costume tutorials between this year and last!] Today I’m bringing home my upcycled elephant costume tutorial, originally posted as part of her series.

[And p.s. don’t let mama-guilt make you think store-bought costumes make you a bad mom… I just bought two costumes at Goodwill for the other kids. With two out of three kids being sick this week, I knew my limits.]


When I asked my almost five-year-old what costume he wanted to wear for trick-or-treating this year, he didn’t even have to think about it. “An elephant. And make it yourself, Mama, okay?” Well, if I must…

So, if your house needs an elephant for your dress-up box too, here’s how you can easily make one of your own. I find a lot of my fabrics, especially for costumes, by upcycling clothing that I find at thrift stores or that we no longer wear. [Go ahead and take a look at a few costumes that I’ve done in previous years… it’s alright, I’ll wait for you right here] Of course, you can just as easily use fabric from the store to make this.


  • Old grey hooded sweatshirt
  • Pink knit fabric – I used an old T-shirt
  • White felt
  • Soft elastic
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Sewing machine and/or serger
  • Scissors
  • Grey/White thread
  • Poly-fil

1. Cut off the hood of the sweatshirt. Using a hoodie that currently fits your child as a guide, cut the hood smaller. You will have two sides that are cut open. You’ll leave these open for now.

2. Make ears out of the body of the sweatshirt and your pink knit material. You will want two of each color.

3. Place one grey/one pink ear right sides together. Serge or zig-zag stitch around the curved edges of the ears, leaving the flat edge open. Turn the ear right side out.

4. Cut a tube for the trunk. This is easy to do from the arm of the sweatshirt – it already has the right shape, you just cut it down to the size you want. One end should be skinnier than the other. Mine was about 19 inches long. Turn the right sides together and serge or zig-zag along the long side.

5. Measure the skinny end. [Mine was about 2.5 inches across] Make a circle out of sweatshirt material that is the same diameter [So my circle was about 2.5 inches from one side to the other]. Take a fabric marker and draw two ovals for the end of the elephant’s trunk.

6. Sew that onto the end of the trunk – with the tube still inside out, place the circle right side down, then serge or zig-zag together.

7. Turn right side out, stuff with poly-fil and a bent wire coat hanger, and hand stitch closed. The edges will not fray, so don’t worry about tucking the ends under.

8. Hand stitch a piece of soft elastic onto the larger end [the end you just closed up]. The length of your elastic will vary depending on how big your child is. Making it too long is better, because you can always trim it down [I ended up trimming mine WAY down]

9. Now you’ll be sewing on the ears. Start by determining where you want to attach the ears. Once you do that, you’ll want to unfold the hood and pin the ears on what would be the top of the hood. You’ll pin and zig-zag stitch on the pink [underside] of the ears. I used two rows of stitching, to make sure the ears held really tightly. The pictures below should help to further explain:

10. Next, try the hood on your little elephant. Determine where you want to place the trunk. I tried to place mine between my son’s nose and mouth – that way it wouldn’t get in the way of his breathing. When trying it on, also decide how tight you want the elastic. Then zig-zag a few times through only one layer of the hood. The stitching should be on the inside of the hood. [You can see in this picture that I stitched it on, then decided I wanted it tighter, so I just folded the elastic and stitched it on again, then cut off the extra]. Do this with both ends of the elastic.

11. Now you’re going to sew the hood closed. With the hood inside out, serge or zig-zag the back of the hood closed. Watch that you don’t accidentally sew in the ears!

12. Now turn the hood right side out, fold under the bottom edges, and top-stitch it closed. Remember to avoid sewing those ears again!

13. Now to add some tusks! [If you want to – if you don’t, you’re finished!] Cut four tusk shapes out of the white felt. Zig-zag each pair together. Then turn right side out, stuff with poly-fil, and hand-stitch them closed, just like you did with the trunk.

14. Determine where you’d like the tusks to sit.

15. Then hand-stitch them onto the trunk and the hood. Repeat with the other tusk.

Now pair it with a grey sweatsuit [upcycled like mine, or store bought]…

…and watch out for the water sprays from that trunk!

Handmade Costume Series – an Upcycled Elephant Tutorial!

Last year, I had the privilege of being part of Andrea’s Handmade Costume series. It was so much fun [you can see my tutorial from last year here].
I’m so happy to be over there again this year, sharing another costume tutorial!

So come on over to The Train to Crazy and check out my tutorial, so you can have your own handmade elephant in your house. And while you’re there, be sure to check out all the other awesome costume tutorials!

Embellishing Jeans: a Quick Tutorial

Obviously I thrift a lot. But not just for clothing to refashion or upcycle. I love to buy ready-to-wear clothing there too. I have found some of my favorite jeans, great kid clothes, and even work shirts for my hubby.

I came home one day with some Children’s Place jeans for my oldest boy – in absolutely pristine condition. And for only 50 cents. Perfect, right?

And then I turned them around and found little hearts on the pockets. Woops. Sorry, dude.

But, no need to give them away.  This is an easy fix!

We just embellish the jeans [because yes, you can even embellish BOY jeans!]

1. Trace over one of the back pockets to give you a template.

2. Using the template you made, cut out two pocket shapes from your fabric.

3. Sew around the sides and bottom of your pocket – but don’t sew the top of the pocket (or you’ll sew the pocket closed).

4. Trim around the edges, cutting off any excess fabric [though I left a little so that it would fray – more about that below].

4. Use a fabric glue, such as Liquid Stitch, to glue the top of the fabric onto the pocket.

I used a fabric that will fray after it’s washed – I want the fraying. But if you don’t want yours to fray you have options: either add fray check around the edges of your pocket or cut your fabric a little larger than your pocket template, and iron the edges under before you sew. You could also use a fabric that won’t fray, like knit fabric, but I’d only use that if you find one with very little stretch.

My four-year-old said “Wow, Mom… are these jeans really for me?!” when I showed him. That, my friends, is 50 cents and 15 minutes of naptime well-spent.

Dress to Skirt Refashion! [A little tutorial]

Refashion. Upcycle. Thrifting. These could quite possibly be some of my favorite words ever. EVAH. So when I walk through a thrift store, I tend to look with a “what could I do with this?” kind of eye.

Turn an ill-fitting dress into a skirt

I recently found this lovely green sundress:

But as lovely as it was, it didn’t fit. Not. Even. Close. Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift doesn’t make clothes for nursing mamas… [and p.s. who even knew she had a clothing line?]

Simple fix: cut off the bottom and make it a skirt instead!

I found some non-roll elastic (affiliate link) in my supplies [it’s either 1.5 or 2inches wide]. I wrapped it around my waist to get the length I wanted. I sewed the elastic into a circle an then pinned the skirt around it, gathering as I went along. You could sew a basting stitch along the top of the skirt and gather it to the same size as the circle of elastic. Then serge or zig-zag the elastic to the skirt and boom – you have a new skirt!

I could’ve dyed the elastic but well, that wouldn’t have been quite as simple of a refashion and I’m not a tuck-your-shirt-into-your-skirt kinda girl anyway.

It has pockets! Yay!

[Photo courtesy of my four-year-old photographer]

An Upcycled Slim Fit Tank

A couple weeks ago, I made my oldest this upcycled, striped tank.

It’s upcycled from a Target clearance tee [$2 for an XXL, if you’re wondering]. Once again, marrying my love of stripes and refashioning.

The ribbing was also upcycled, from an old tank of mine. It was WAY stretchier than the ribbing I used for the original tank, though, and even though I tried to cut it smaller, my neckline still ended up a little wonky. But not enough for me to rip it out and re-do it.

I said “show me your muscles!” Blank stare. Oh, four-year-olds… love ’em. ;)

Short to Long Sleeves – a Quick and Easy Tutorial

Truth be told, long-sleeved shirts get much more wear around here than short-sleeved. While our summer season isn’t very long [insert sad face here], we do have a great spring and fall.

So when I found a grey polo for my two-year-old on clearance, I snatched it up, knowing that I wanted to change it from short to long sleeves. Partly for weather reasons, partly because seriously, a plain grey polo… well, it’s plain.change a shirt from short to long sleeves in 10 minutes

So, grab your plain old short sleeved tee, and get started!

I cut off and used the sleeves of a different shirt to make this quick fix… super quick. If you don’t have a shirt to use [but I know you do – check the back of your closet – you’ll find one!] you’ll have to make some tubes for sleeves. But by using existing sleeves, you don’t have to worry about hemming or much cutting.

Next, I used the sleeves of a shirt my little guy already wears as a guide for how long to make the sleeves. You want to cut your sleeve to be just above where you are going to sew it.

The shirt sleeve was a little larger than I needed it, so I just trimmed it down a bit. How much you trim will depend on how wide your kiddo’s shirt sleeve is and how wide the one is that you’re going to attach.

Now zig-zag stitch across the open side of the sleeve.

Then simply pin the shirt sleeves inside your short sleeves. Stitch with a straight stitch along the existing stitching. [say that three times fast…]

Bye bye, plain short-sleeved polo.

Linking up here

Hey, hey, it’s a monkey!

Happy Halloween!

While many of you still have festivities to come tonight, we have already gone trick-or-treating, and we have the loot to prove it [that is, the candy that hasn’t already made it into my belly…. mmmm]

There are my three costume-clad cuties!

[iPod tutorial blogged here]

Months ago, when I asked my four-year-old what he wanted to be for Halloween, he told me a monkey.  I waited for awhile to see if he changed his mind, but every time I asked, he said he needed a monkey costume – and he was insistent that I make it.

So in true Jess fashion, I did another up cycle.  In the same way as last year’s Super Why Costume, I refashioned a men’s sweatshirt that I had on hand to make his pants [from the sleeves of the sweatshirt] and the main portion of his monkey top. The fuzzy material is one I’ve had for a long time, purchased from JoAnn’s, making for a free costume!  I love things that are free.

This is the only picture where you can see his tail peeking out.  It’s made from that fuzzy material, stuffed with polyfil, and sewn onto a circle of elastic.  That way it wouldn’t get in the way of sitting in the car seat and could be easily taken off – or worn without the rest of the monkey costume [which has already happened!]  The costume could easily be a bear, too, without the tail or the quickly made banana [out of a yellow microfiber towel, like the ones I used for the prefold diapers]

This little man did not have a homemade costume.  The pea pod was found at Joann’s on clearance last year [and no, I wasn’t even pregnant then, just hopeful!]  I’m glad I didn’t spend the time making a costume that he wore for about two hours… but he was awfully cute!

Have a safe and fun Halloween, to those of you who are celebrating tonight!  Now excuse me while I go eat yet another piece of candy…