Sewing Tip: making the most of upcycled tees

save the neckbands of old teesSometimes finding the right knit fabric can be tricky. Local shops don’t always have the widest selection, and while I love to shop online [Girl Charlee and The Fabric Fairy are some of my favorite sites for knits!] sometimes you just need to feel the fabric to know if it’s going to work for you – how much does it stretch? Does it drape well? How thick is it?

That’s one of the reasons that I love to upcycle. You can find some unique prints and if you shop your closet or a local thrift shop, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Often times, when I use a thrifted or clearance-rack T-shirt, though, I’m left with a bunch of leftover fabric. And the frugal side of me hates throwing away all the useful bits!


Counting Stars — upcycled black tee // striped body suit — upcycled polo
DIY baby pants tutorial — upcycled thrifted shirts

Some large pieces might end up in my scraps bin, if I think I can use them again, but I especially love to save neck bindings.


After you’ve cut out your pattern pieces, if you haven’t used the neck binding, cut it off and throw it into a basket.


Then peek through your stash the next time you’re making a shirt or jammies. Just remember, if it’s an old shirt, it may not have the same amount of stretch that new ribbing would have, so test it out before using it. But this tip could save you a little bit of money and maybe a trip to the store for a little bit of ribbing!


Boy Style: plaids and hats [Pattern Anthology]

Today I’m joining up with the Pattern Anthology tour to share a little Boy Style with you. Because who says girls need to have all the fashion fun?

Boy Style  If Only They Would Nap

The patterns from the Pattern Anthology collection [a limited time collection of 8 patterns by four designers that I know and love] have what every boy [or girl] needs to have an amazing winter wardrobe.

Here’s our style guide:


Start with the Berkshire Blazer. Designed to tailor fit your child, it can dress up any outfit, but still be playful and fun. I sewed this one in a sweatshirt fleece. It still looks polished and put-together, but it’s comfy and great for play.


Add a driver cap, skinny jeans, and suspenders, and you’ve got a six-year-old who’s suddenly going on sixteen…


I love that this jacket offers so many ways to mix it up. A little color blocking changes a look really easily.

There aren’t a lot of boy-friendly accessories out there, so hats are a must.


So obviously the Winter Wonderland collection has a hat. Two hats, actually. This one is the Trapper Hat, which I made out of a felted wool sweater and a flannel sheet [because when you’re the oldest of four kids, the best styles are upcycled].DSC_0777

The whole feel of the jacket changes with the simple swap of the hat. Plus, we’re totally ready for Wisconsin winter now.


Stripes are my go-to for my boys. And I have a serious love for plaids. The Johnny B Good top can be dressy or casual. And upcycled from a men’s shirt, like this one was. There are some great instructions for upcycling in the pattern, and I’ve given some tips for that here too.


And with the back yoke and front patches built into the design, you can mix your prints.


The faux-suede gives it a western vibe, but paired with the Trapper Hat, it doesn’t read “cowboy costume.”


Toss that blazer back on, and you’ve “fancied” up your look, as my boys like to say.DSC_0824

Fancy clothes that are fit for relaxing. That’s how we roll here.


We may be bundling up in the frozen tundra, but that’s not going to stop us from looking good while we do it.

A few Pattern Anthology details….

  • 8 patterns sold as a bundle for 40% off their retail price until November 18th – then they are all sold individually from the respective designers for full-price.
  • You can also purchase mini-collections [just for boys or just for girls]
  • These pattern designers are the real deal. I’ve raved about them all before [Go To Patterns, Shwin Designs, See Kate Sew, and Blank Slate Patterns], and none of these patterns will disappoint.

Style details….

  • Driver hat and suspenders: H&M
  • Skinny jeans: Target [Shaun White]
  • All other outfit elements: handmade

Fabric and pattern details….

  • Berkshire Blazer: grey and navy sweatshirt fleece from Jo Ann Fabrics. This blazer was a surprisingly quick sew for me, but it’s definitely not a beginner pattern. I strayed slightly from the pattern, since I didn’t line the jacket, but this blazer kills, you guys. It’s so well-done and gives you an incredibly professional looking garment. I sewed a size six with seven arm length, but next time I’ll do a seven length all around, so he can wear it longer. But it’s perfect for now.
  • Trapper Hat: upcycled felted wool sweater and flannel sheet. This pattern is SO fast. Like, get it done in less than one seven-month-old naptime fast. I really love how it fits, and my son finds it really comfortable. It would also be really easy to size up or down if your child falls a bit out of the size range.
  • Johnny B Good Hoodie: upcycled men’s plaid shirt, faux-suede from Jo Ann Fabrics [a really, really long time ago]. This pattern takes a bit more time, but the finished product is definitely worth it. Upcycling cuts down a bit – and you can avoid button holes, if they’re not your thing. The shirt has a collar or hoodie option, as well as short sleeves. It’s truly a year-round wardrobe staple.

Be sure to check out all the other Pattern Anthology bloggers on the tour. Ah-may-zing stuff – style, holiday photo shoot tips, tutorials, and pattern remixes that are so super awesome.


Disclosure: I was given these patterns in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, as always.

15 Upcycled Sewing Project Ideas

Hooray for Earth Day!

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to scour thrift stores [or our closets!] for fabrics to repurpose into something else. Call it upcycling, refashioning, or repurposing… there’s just so much possibility for new life from things that have been discarded and forgotten.

So to celebrate Earth Day, I’ve gathered 15 of my upcycled sewing projects. Some have tutorials, others will hopefully provide you with some refashioning inspiration.

15 Upcycled Sewing Projects // If Only They Would Nap

Ruched Maternity Teedscf2445

Baby PantsDSC_0882

Pillow Cover from Vintage Sheetdscf6368

Kid Cardigan from Adult Cardigandscf74111

Baby Shoesbaby-shoes-tutorial

Pillow Cover from a Sweaterpillow-cover-tutorial


Kid PJ Pants from Adult PJs


Maternity Pants from Regular Jeansdscf2372

Dresses from Vintage Sheetsdscf1795

Cuff Bracelets from felted woolcuff-bracelet-tutorial

Silly Mustachesmustaches-tutorial

Sweater to Ruffled Cardigandscf1224

Dress to Skirt Refashion


Short to Long Sleeved Teedscf5515

Oh upcycling, how I heart you.

What materials do you have in your house right now that you can repurpose and sew into something new?

Submarine Pullover

If you sew kids’ clothing and you don’t know Shwin Designs, you are missing out. Shauna creates fabulous patterns for both boys and girls, and they never disappoint. One of my favorites is the Nowhere Man Pants, which I have made and used as a starting point for pants many times.

So when I had the opportunity to test another pattern from Shwin Designs, I jumped at the chance!DSC_0578 This pattern is part of an amazing collection of patterns called Pattern Anthology – eight patterns by four designers [who are all so.darn.fabulous!] – but available for just a limited amount of time, only until March 24th!DSC_0589And like the other patterns I’ve made from Shwin Designs, this one was awesome. Clear instructions, great pictures, and seriously – look how amazing it is when you’re finished? I upcycled a men’s linen button-up shirt for the main fabric and had this super cute outdoorsy fabric [from Jo-Ann’s] that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas that I used for the accent fabric.DSC_0581Since I was part of the testing phase, there was some tweaking that needed to be done on the hood. So I added a band of fabric to the front of my hood [which is not in the pattern] to make up for that. I actually really love it this way, though, and would totally make it again like that in the future!
DSC_0588I loved how this pattern came together so nicely. I’d say it could be a bit complicated for a beginning sewist [but she has plenty of other patterns that would be good for you!] And despite my super uncooperative model’s face, he really loves it. He just hates to model for me. Even with bribery.

[See the Surfer Slacks here, which are also from the Pattern Anthology collection.]

and p.s. i was given this pattern in return for testing it and giving my honest feedback, but i don’t get anything for telling you how awesome it is – or for telling you about the pattern sale. i just know that you will definitely want these patterns. :)

Easy DIY Baby Pants Tutorial

With a house already full of boys, I haven’t had the need to buy much of anything for this new babe. I did want to make a few things for baby, however, and one of my favorite things to make is baby pants. Okay, pants in general are a fave, I’ll admit, but especially baby pants. Everything is much better in miniature version.

There are two things that I really love about sewing knit baby pants: they are a super quick sew and they take very little fabric.

Don’t have a baby to sew for? This tutorial is basically an updated version of my lounge pants, so you could easily make these for any sized kid.

easy DIY baby pants tutorial // if only they would nap

If you know my crazy love for upcycling, you have to know that I adore using thrifted T-Shirts for baby pants. Not only does it make these even that much faster to make, it also gives you so many great fabric options. [the two pants on the right were both upcycled from thrifted tees!] And obviously, stripes are always a good choice…

DSC_08431. Lay a pair of baby pants on top of your fabric/thrifted tee. You want to line up the outside seam of your pants with the folded edge of your fabric. Cut around the pants, giving yourself a little extra fabric around the side for a seam allowance. [for baby pants made out of knit, I make the front and back the same, but you can always make the back a little higher if you need some room in the booty]

DSC_0848Be sure also that you add some extra length at the top for the waistband. How much will depend on how wide your elastic is. I prefer to use fold over elastic like this:

Babyville Boutique Fold Over Elastic Blue/Turquoise

for baby pants, since it’s soft and won’t dig into baby’s skin at all.

DSC_08542. Sew down the inseam of each leg, with the right sides of the fabric together.

DSC_08584. Turn the pant legs right side out. Pin the legs together at the center seam and sew.

DSC_08635. Sew the ends of your elastic together. My elastic was about 14in. long, allowing room for overlap as the ends were sewn together. I don’t want my pants to be too tight, and I cloth diaper my babes, so I don’t need the pants to be super skinny. And my babies tend to be well over eight pounds. If yours are smaller, you might want to use less elastic.

DSC_08716. Fold the top of the waistband over the circle of elastic and pin in place.

DSC_08737. Sew the waistband down, being careful not to sew the elastic at the same time.DSC_0877And then sew up a bunch for all the babies you know, because it was so ridiculously quick!

DSC_0882C’mon, baby, you’ve got some sweet stripey pants waiting for you!

Hanging Hearts [a mini tutorial]

When it comes to home or holiday decor, I’m super cheap frugal. I don’t enjoy spending lots of money on things that are either only going to be up for a short time or have the potential to get broken by my [super lovely and amazing] boys who don’t care so much that mama’s decor isn’t supposed to be used as a weapon.

The two things that I love adding more of to my home: natural fibers and elements of nature. Bonus: both can be cheap or free!

hanging heartsThis project took me about an hour [with some Downton Abbey distractions thrown in there] and it gave me exactly the look I was going for.

DSCF7420Here’s all you need: felted wool scraps [you could do this with craft felt or fleece, but it will look much better with felted wool – trust me] and embroidery floss.

DSCF7440Cut some hearts out of the felted wool. These were scraps from old sweaters that I had felted and turned into diaper covers.

DSCF7428Use your handy dandy blanket stitch [tutorial found here if you don’t know how to do it!] to sew two hearts together.

DSCF7434With your needle, add a little embroidery floss to make a loop for hanging.

DSCF7431And then hang them on a branch! Natural fibers always seem make my home feel a little more peaceful. Which is something that makes this mama happy.

Lil’ Long Johns [Peekaboo Pattern Shop Holiday Tour!]

Welcome to day one of the Peekaboo Pattern Shop Holiday Tour!

I was so excited to get to review the Lil’ Long Johns pattern from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop. You know those outfits that you put your kids in that just melt you? This is one of those.

[The baby blues might have a little bit to do with the melting, too…]

These jammies are one-piece from top to bottom. With a button placket at the top and an optional snap closure for easy diaper changes.

But since the pattern goes up to size eight [eight! so awesome!], the pattern gives directions for how to make them without the snaps.

I made these from an XXL men’s clearance T-shirt. My plan was to make matching ones for my other kiddos [and I still hope to!], but apparently my prego brain cannot read patterns correctly, and I cut the fabric incorrectly… twice. No fault in the pattern – just blame the baby mama!

Also? Vintage green buttons. Love.

And a blurry picture of the cutest baby bum ever. Eek! So cute!

I’d say that the Lil’ Long Johns pattern falls in the intermediate sewing category. If you’ve done some clothing construction before, you can definitely handle this pattern. And while using a serger would make it faster, you could totally use a regular machine to sew this up. The pattern includes pictures and descriptions to help you follow the directions, which are super helpful. [as long as you don’t have baby-brain taking away your ability to cut fabric correctly..]

Overall, I was really impressed with this pattern. I will definitely be sewing more of these jammies for all my boys!

But what’s a super awesome pattern tour without a super awesome giveaway? Amy of Naptime Crafters and Peek-a-boo Patterns is giving away ALL of her patterns that are in the Holiday Pattern Tour! One lucky winner gets every.single.one. Eek!

You can enter the amazing giveaway at Naptime Crafters by clicking here! [seriously, go do it!]

And if you don’t win, or if you just can’t wait to find out if you won, today is the last day of Peek-a-boo Patterns big sale. And you can get 25% off all week with code: hohoho

And be sure to check out all the other fantastic ladies who are also on tour [I said it like that so I could sound kinda rockstar-ish. Not sure it worked.]

The Sewing Loft
If Only They Would Nap [oh hey, you’re here!]
Nap Time Crafters

Sew Country Chick
Sewing Mama RaeAnna

Melly Sews
Caila Made

Sew a Straight Line
Alida Makes

Sumo’s Sweet Stuff

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…

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. ;)

Sweater-alls: Take Two!

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you might recall some sweater overalls that I made for my now two-year-old.

 I really loved them on him, and they were such a super quick upcycling project. So I thought I’d make some for the baby this time around!

Yes, I do realize that I just made a tank top for my oldest and now I’m making sweater-alls for my youngest – in the same KCWC. But that’s spring in Wisconsin… for real. This week it was 80 one day and 50 the next. So we go with the flow.

Just like the original, these sweater-alls were upcycled from a thrift store sweater, using a pair of overalls as a template.

These are also lined with some knit fabric, but do you see those serged edges? Yeah, that was not the original plan. I completely sewed the wrong sides together, leaving the serged edges exposed. As I began to unpick with my seam ripper, I realized it would take me for.e.ver to do that… so I just decided to make it work.

And this time around? I didn’t even attempt the button hole through the sweater nightmare. Instead, the fabulous coconut buttons are just for show, with snaps hidden underneath.