Category Archives: Fashion


Aurora Dress Tutorial

We recently let Bean and Sprout watch Sleeping Beauty after lots of begging by them and promises that they were “big kids now” that are not afraid of scary dragons and witches.

Aurora was instantly her new favorite princess and she kept saying she wanted a pink dress like Aurora’s dress. Making the Prince Philip costume for her brother only fueled her desire for this dress even more.

We are, however, trying to combat a sense of entitlement in our kids that seems to have sprung up. We are tired of them thinking life is about stuff (toys) and the maintenance of stuff (cleaning them up, organizing them, setting them up, hoarding them, and acquiring new ones).


Bean went with me to pick out the fabric for this dress and a replacement Rapunzel dress (that will be another post). The day I started sketching out the additional pattern pieces and cutting the fabric she began demanding that I make a Princess and the Frog dress (we haven’t even seen that movie?!), a Merida/Brave dress (have not seen that one either), and a Snow White dress.

I mean sheesh. This sewing business isn’t easy and it is a bit time consuming.

And she had just complained around the same time about the uneven hem line on the Cinderella dress I made. I knew about it (the front of the dress hangs about an inch lower than the back) and honestly, the perfectionist in me is bugged by it every time she wears the dress. Stephen had come home at lunch during the height of the complaining and explained that sewing wasn’t easy, that I worked hard on the dress, that she should be grateful because not all little girls have a Mama that can sew, and that I make mistakes just like she does sometimes. Stephen headed back to work. She seemed to ponder what he said, but kept tugging at her dress while looking at her reflection in the oven door. Then she walked over to me, put her hand seemingly lovingly on my shoulder and said, “I don’t want you to make your mistakes on my dresses. It’s OK to make other mistakes though.”

So I did the mature thing and complained about her complaining on Facebook. And now I’m writing this blog post. Maybe she gets it from me?

She’d make a perfect managing editor someday if the journalism industry still exists, “Make your mistakes on your own time, don’t make them in my publication.”

As I worked on this dress, there were many days that I felt my only (perfect) recourse was to say, “If you keep being sassy and bossing me around I’m going to put away the dress and stop working on it.” And I did. She still doesn’t know that it is finished, actually. I’ve decided that it will be a birthday gift now instead.


Disney and Simplicity have discontinued (it seems “The Vault” holds more than just movies) the Aurora princess costume. I wound up looking at lots of pictures of Aurora and I found this adult replication, the “bones” of which are pretty similar to the Cinderella costume I’d already made. The only differences are long sleeves instead of short, the stand-up pointy shoulder collar and the triangular (or zigzag as Bean kept calling it) overlay.

I am sure there are lots of other tutorials out there (or will be soon thanks to Pinterest) with better photos and instructions. There are also likely others that don’t begin with a lengthy introduction tangent on parenting. I am sure someone will make a dress completely from scratch, too (if they haven’t already). I did not find those, if they do exist.

Aurora Dress Tutorial

I used the bodice pattern pieces from the Cinderella dress to help me sketch the other pieces out of gift-wrap tissue. I also used a cardigan of Bean’s to help me with the long sleeves.

I decided to keep the shoulder straps of the original dress instead of the off-the-shoulder look in the adult costume and most of the cartoon drawings of Aurora I found. Bean was pretty adamant about the shoulders, but I explained that it wasn’t really an appropriate look for a three-year-old.


I used the bodice pieces and skirt pieces from the Cinderella costume for the rest of the costume. I followed most of the same directions and style in which the sewing pattern suggests.

There were two different collar pieces, one for the back bodice neckline and one for the front neckline. I cut eight of each out of white costume satin that had some sparkles and four of each of the pieces out of some really stiff interfacing. I cut four of each of the bodice pieces of dark pink sparkly costume satin and one of each of the skirt pieces out of the same color. The directions say to cut two of the back skirt piece, but I think it makes the skirt too full and hard to sew once all gathered up. I cut two on the fold of each of the overlay pieces (2 for front and two for back) in light pink sparkly costume satin and two of the sleeves.

I used an overlock (zigzag) stitch to attach each of the interfacing pieces to one of the white fabric pieces, right side out. Then I sewed the front and back pieces for each shoulder together to make four diamonds. I put the diamonds (one with interfacing, the other without) right sides together and sewed along the top edge of the collar. Then I turned it right side out and top stitched it.

I followed the directions for the bodice piece from the pattern and then attached each side of the collar/shoulder to the neckline.



I hemmed the pointed ends of the sleeves under, sewed down the underarm seam and then attached them to the armholes of the bodice.


I sewed each of the front overlays to the back ones at the side seams, then put them right sides together and sewed along the zigzag. I turned it right side out and top stitched it.


Instead of doing the gathered stitch on the skirt like the Cinderella dress, I decided that I would do pleats. Once the pleats were in place and the skirt was the right width to match the width of the bodice, I attached the overlay to the skirt first at a 3/8in seam and then attached the skirt to the bodice at a 5/8 seam as directed in the pattern. Then I put in the zipper at the back. I had to take a lot of length off the skirt to be right for Bean’s height (I used one of her longer formal dresses as my gauge).


There are mistakes. I am not sure how long it will be before she figures them out and says something about them, but overall it is something that I am pleased with.

It is also a plus that I know it should hold up really well for awhile just like the Cinderella dress I made. And maybe one of these days I’ll fix that pesky uneven hemline.

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A wardrobe of my own making

If there is one thing the Twenty Pieces Project has taught me, it is that a lot of clothing is not made very well or to last beyond the current few-weeks-long season. Much of my wardrobe started falling apart and looking pretty shabby fairly early on, even some of the more high-end pieces.

So, what started with a couple cute dresses for my daughter (oh yeah, I forgot I never blogged those!) has morphed into trying to slowly replace most of my entire wardrobe with my own handiwork.

The dresses I made for Bean:




My daughter has already worn/is wearing things I made for her nieces years ago that sometimes went through both of them and are still in excellent condition and I’ve passed a lot of these things on to friends’ and family members’ kids as she grows out of them and they are still passing them along.

I’m not saying I’ll never buy another thing again (just bought my daughter a really cute Chambray shirt-waist dress today, more on that later), but I want to make a lot more of my clothes and I will NEVER buy another dress-up costume again.


I have washed this Cindrella costume no less than 50 times and it is still in perfect condition. The Rapunzel costume I bought is practically in shreds after only a couple washes.

A few weeks ago I picked out some fabrics and a pattern. My original plan was to make this tunic out of all three fabrics (that is the beauty of a pattern, once you find a style/fit you love, you can keep making it in other fabrics for new looks), but I have other plans now with the purchase of two additional patterns.


I realized this pattern in the bird fabric though and love it.


I got some additional fabric when I made the additional pattern purchases and whipped up this skirt for myself (photo thanks to Bean).


I already have so many ideas and plans.

Just today I was showing off Miss Bean’s new Chambray dress that was inspired by her auntie’s, to said auntie/sister and in a few minutes had already conspired with her to make my own adult version.


View E plus 3 yards of Chambray fabric I found online and I could get away with a very well made shirt waist dress in Chambray for around $26. Yes, please.

Also, somebody is freaking genius in social media over at Simplicity pattern company, you can browse all of their patterns and then they have a button to “pin” them right to your boards on Pinterest. It is awesome. I’ve already pinned all my favorites. A sampling of some of my recent ones:


I have big plans, obviously. The thing I like about sewing compared to other crafts though, is how quickly you can get it done. Both the tunic and skirt were done (from first cut to hem) in a couple hours after I put the kids to bed. I think it also helps that I have been working with Simplicity patterns since I was in the third grade (4-H sewing for the life-skills win!) and so I often don’t even need to read directions because I am so familiar with how their patterns work. I am sure this goes against all the rules, but who needs rules all the time anyway? 😉

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Twenty (seven) pieces update

Just thought I’d write a little update about my Twenty (seven) Pieces adventure. Since writing my last post I replaced my Joe’s (but I may still try an alteration a friend sent me on them) with some straight leg jeans from American Eagle (they redesigned them with a higher waistline in the back) and altered one of my dresses to be more of a longer shirt/dress/blouse so that I can continue wearing it even while breastfeeding.

I used an iPhone app called Style Book to give you a better glimpse into my closet and to document for myself that I do actually own clothes (something I tend to forget when they are in the laundry). Here goes:




And here are some of my favorite/typical looks:









Overall, I’m pretty pleased with what I have worked my way down to. These are the clothes I pretty much only wore as it was. The other stuff was just taking up space in my closet and rarely got pulled out.

We’ve also been taking the 20 pieces concept beyond our clothes. I recently cleaned out my kitchen and got rid of a bunch of tools, pans, etc that like the clothes in my former closet, were just sitting there cluttering up my cabinets and falling out on me when I went to grab stuff I actually used on a regular basis.

A bunch of kitchen stuff out of my cupboards and bagged up for friends and my sister.

My much more organized and simplified shelves. Everything easy to get to. Before the purge this was jumbled top to bottom with kitchen items and no order to it. I pulled one thing out and several other things went sliding and falling out on me. It was a mess.

Having less stuff is so much nicer than I ever thought it would be. Having a few favorite, well-made pieces is so much more preferable to mounds of things I never or hardly ever use. It has also been nice to bless others with our extras. My sister just got back from a year long stint in South Korea and she needed kitchen stuff. A couple friends are having babies and they were happy to have the clothes my kids had outgrown or rarely wore.

In my case, the old adage, “‘Tis better to give than receive,” certainly holds true.

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Closet Purge Part 2: My 27 pieces and some dresses

So closet purging is taking longer than I thought. We keep getting sick and tired and babies not sleeping and major life conversations and decisions happening. BUT it turns out the stress induced hives were a virus rash (I know because after most stress going away it was still there and then Sprout got the rash too). Also not fun, but at least I know I am managing my stress better than I thought.

So two nights ago I purged my closet after the kids went to bed, filling up 3 Trader Joe’s bags with stuff that basically just sits in my closet unworn and is mostly junky stuff from Target.

So a little background on my fashion adventures. Back when we lived in Bakersfield, my husband and I were DINKS and I had a walk-in closet that was practically the size of a small bedroom in our current abode. It was mostly filled with my things too. I had two upper and lower racks along one wall, the rack along the back wall and Stephen had the other single rack wall. It was A LOT of clothes.

Well then I got pregnant, quit my job, got really sick and lost 5 sizes worth of weight from being sick. Not only did most of my wardrobe not fit me, it no longer fit my new lifestyle. While great for interviewing chamber of commerce members or politicians, a three piece suit isn’t something you want to burp a baby in, ever.

So once my body kind of leveled out to normal after Bean was born, I bought a bunch of new stuff from Target and American Eagle. And then I had two more babies. The favorite cut straight leg jeans from American Eagle were also designed for exhibitionist teenagers with no butt and not meant for mom-butts that have to bend over all day long picking up children, toys, breaking up fights, getting down on their level, etc.

After Sparrow was born my husband forced me to go shopping and replace most of my wardrobe, most especially my jeans. And he said he didn’t want us to buy crap clothes from Target ever again.

I hate shopping for jeans. I tried on a pair of Joe’s and they weren’t super low rise so I decided they would work. The thing is you can’t really tell if jeans work until you wear them for at least 24 hours. I couldn’t do this though because mine were at the tailor making them right for my short 5’2″ stature because even the petite length was way too long on me. We headed to the Camarillo Outlets and I bought two more pairs from the Joe’s outlet store thinking these were “the” jeans.

Oh they SO are not.

After only a couple hours of wearing them I spend the rest if my day pulling them up. They lose their shape and just fall down. I find belts really uncomfortable so that really isn’t the solution. So I am still wearing them and don’t have much other choice. I can’t go drop another $400 on jeans that I can’t be sure about without a 24 hour run.

That was sort of a tangent, but those three pairs of jeans make up the 26 pieces now left in my wardrobe. I might have to do something about it later this year. Not sure.


On the right side of my closet are some dresses. A few fancy, but mostly not. I am not getting rid of those dresses, but can’t really wear them while breastfeeding so they don’t really count.

So what does count?

3 pairs of jeans, already discussed
1 pair of black slacks
1 black and mustard ruffle skirt
1 khaki distressed skirt
1 teal jersey skirt
1 long brown, mustard and grey linen skirt that I made myself
1 yellow open/lace knit cardi for Spring
1 beige ruffle jersey knit cardi
1 chunky knit grey cropped cardi
1 mustard cable knit wool cardi
1 grey bird and polka dot cropped cardi (still love and is holding up great even though it’s from Target)
1 green striped jersey cardi
1 3/4 sleeve striped tunic shirt (this shirt was part of the not buying junk trip, but it already has a couple of small holes near the button strips on the sides and it kind of pills in the front when I hold kids, it might have to be tossed or replaced later this year, but for now it is still OK)
1 lavender empire cut 3/4 sleeve blouse with ruffles
1 sleeveless white ruffle blouse
1 tank top with a cascading print that I love, also for Spring/Summer
8 t-shirts that all have an interesting detail or two like a print, way they are cut, collar, print, etc so that they aren’t t-shirts in the typical sense, but are super comfy and work for what I do.

=26 pieces

I feel like this is a good amount for me. I need a little more than twenty because of spit ups and spills and messy hands that touch me and so may go through more than one wardrobe change in a single day. I need the occasional nice outfit, but mostly not. But just because I am a mom, I don’t want to look like I am sloppy or unfashionable especially when going around with my always in a button-up shirt husband. So there you have it. Living life more simply this year, I hope, with 26 pieces in my closet!

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Closet Purge Round 1: Bean

Earlier this year a friend of ours (Hi Julie!) from awhile back helped start up something called The Twenty Pieces Project.

For those of you out of the loop I will summarize or you can click the link and go read all about it. Julie and her friend were having a day together, had a conversation about a magazine article in which a rich socialite had decided to not fall into her crowd which lived on new stuff all the time and instead have a simple and classic wardrobe of twenty pieces. Then one thing led to another and these ladies decided to try and do the same.

And I have kind of been thinking about the challenge ever since. Initially I thought that there was no way I could do this because post baby body changes and all that. But that was just a lame excuse.

This week a variety of stress points came to a head in my life and I broke out in hives because of it. And that pretty much was the catalyst for me deciding that our lives need to be simplified in a variety of aspects.

Why do we have clothes in our closets that we never wear or only wear when we are desperate because the laundry needs to be done? Why is it necessary to have mountains of laundry every week?

So I started in on the mountains of laundry and today I attempted my first round of purging Bean’s closet.

It’s no secret that little girls clothes are cute and lovely. If you are ever blessed with a daughter, you needn’t worry about clothing her. People see things in stores and “just can’t resist” picking them up for you/her. And in our family with two older girl cousins, hand me downs abound. And by abound, I mean ABOUND:



I am completely grateful, don’t get me wrong. We have SO MUCH and all of it is completely adorable and I haven’t really had to buy any of it. I can count on one hand the number of items I have purchased.

But is it necessary? Does she really NEED that many clothes? Why are my daughter’s drawers and closet overflowing at capacity, but she only really wears a handful of dresses? Every morning she comes in my room before I’m even really awake and asks, “Mama, can I wear a dress today?” It is a sad, sad and miserable day in Bean’s world when she can’t wear a dress.

As I did the first round of purging I discovered that there were a lot of clothes that I was keeping more for me than her either because of a cute pattern or some other sentimental reason. There were several pieces that I knew she hated wearing, but I liked them and would make her wear. So silly and ridiculous.

Then there were pieces, like the San Diego Chargers cheerleading uniform, that I felt obligated to have in her closet for family that purchased it and are fans even though we are not football fans and I wouldn’t really ever put her in (sorry Mom and Dad!) because we just don’t really walk around in sports paraphernalia (Dodgers tee and hats excepting).

There were also duplicates of things like three different brown cardigans, two purple tee shirts, two red long sleeved shirts with a character on them, three puffer vests, etc.

So after this initial round we are at 37 items. I think there are a couple things hiding out in the laundry still. But 58 items made it into the “to give” pile and that is a victory for today!

The give-aways:



Bean’s much more manageable drawers and closet after the first round of purging:




I say round one because I’d really like to get all of us down to 20-30 pieces. I think this is a good start though.

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A photo shoot is born

“Mama, can we put on my holiday dresses and take some pictures with Lanie in her holiday dress in front of the Christmas tree, please?”

Of course my darling.

I mean, really, how can I say no to such a request? Or her cute little cheery voice? I cannot I tell you.


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Turning a girl sized pattern to American Girl sized

If you remember, back in July I made my niece a dress.

Well, when I found out she was getting an American Girl doll for Christmas (Shhh… it’s a surprise), I decided that I would try to make a matching dress for her doll. Her mom agreed that she would probably love it. I had a bunch of fabric leftover from my niece’s dress, so no need to buy anything new. However, I did not have a pattern. I tried to see if I could find one online, but did not encounter much luck.

So. I did math.

I was never really all that great at math. I do think part of it stems from some pretty terrible teachers in junior high and high school. Because some of the equations that I did figure out have definitely stuck with me. Like the proportional equation. And some geometry stuff that helped us out when we put in our own hardwood floors.

Give me a few minutes and I may be able to explain some math to you AND help you figure out some pattern making skills.

I still had the pattern pieces from the dress I made from “Project Runway Inspired” Simplicity Pattern 3510. I also still had my niece’s measurements and I found a few different websites that listed the dressmaker’s measurements for the American Girl doll.

So, I took all my measurements and the pattern pieces and started doing math and some drawing.

In order to do this I would measure a portion of the pattern piece, say the width of the armhole, and then plug it into my proportional equation (I am really not sure if that is the correct name for this equation, just go with it) along with some of the other measurements. This is the kind of math where there are knowns and unknowns and you have to do a little figuring to find out what the unknowns are (X).

So let’s go with the armhole example (FS = Full size, AG = American Girl):

FS armhole width               X (AG armhole width)
—————–            =       ———————
FS chest width                     AG chest width

So to find X you have to break down the equation until X is left by itself on one side of the equal sign.

2 1/8″           X
—–       =    —–
25″              11.25″

Now I’m not really sure the whole theory behind this, but you multiply in an X across the equal sign.

(2 1/8″) * (11.25″) = (25″) * X

Then to get the X by itself you have to divide both sides by 25 which eliminates the 25 on the X side.

(2 1/8″) * (11.25″)
——————       =        X

In this case X = 0.956″

So, then you know that when you are drawing the armhole, that it needs to be about an inch wide for the American Girl dress.

So, like I said when I was doing the equation I was also taking into consideration where on the body the measurements occured and using corresponding measurements. You wouldn’t for example, use the dolls height in the above equation over the chest measurement. And you want to use the width measurements with other width measurements and height measurements with other heigh measurements.

Or, if you were making a dress with sleeves, you would want to use the wrist and arm measurements when figuring out how wide and long to make the sleeves.

Does that make sense? I hope it does.

Here were my final pattern pieces:

I actually cut out the matching mini pockets for the American Doll dress too, but when it came down to actually sewing them, it was much too hard, even hand sewing them. They were soooo tiny. The dress isn’t an exact match, but I think it turned out pretty good.

I was also concerned about whether the doll version would fit over the doll’s head, so I decided to put a snap in at the back to give more room for pulling it over the doll’s head.

A few of the sites I found that talked about making doll clothes to match big kid clothes said to make it more accurate you should find coordinating fabrics with scaled down versions of the pattern (quilting cottons are a good place to look for this). I just wanted to use up some of the extra fabric I had on hand, so I didn’t do this. I think it looks alright. I did, however, scale down the size of the binding around the armhole to 1/4″ binding. I think on my niece’s dress I used 3/4″.

Anyway, it really is just a matter of knowing a little math, maybe having a calculator on hand if you can’t do math in your head like me, some blank paper, a ruler, measuring tape and a bit of drawing skills. Or if you are not super impressed with your drawing skills, you could make a rough drawn version by hand, scan it and clean it up in a program like Adobe Illustrator.

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