WARNING: This is going to be a very lengthy post. 35 pattern pieces. Repeat: 35 PATTERN PIECES…accompanied by 63 steps.

Project: Baby Book

Sew Tunes: Mumford and Sons Pandora Station

Pattern: Simplicity

Fabric Used: Cotton, Flannel, Suede, Denim, Felt, Lame, Faux Fur, Fringe, Fleece

New to Me: Where do I begin? Working with new textures such as lame, suede, and denim…and trimmings such as fur, fringe, cord, and bias tape. I haven’t done much applique work either.

Trips to Store: 1 (surprisingly)

Loved One: This super gal Jacee’s new little baby boy Felix Elliot Brown. I’m lucky to get to work with Jacee, graphic designer extraordinaire.

Day by Day…

There’s a twist this week. My girlfriend Amy asked if I would teach her the sewing basics, and what better way than with a 35 piece fabric book as our guide (some sarcasm intended). The book has buttons and zippers and shoe strings. Oh my. Since she is a new mama, her story, or herstory (my all-girl high school experience shining through) is “Sew Mama.” My story: “Felix Feels…”

Friday, July 29:

Thinking it’s going to be an involved project, I had a bit of a jump-start. I purchased the pattern at Jo-Ann Fabrics after reading in the weekly flyer that all Simplicity patterns were on sale for $1.99. (Yes, I am turning into “that” person.). I then hit Hancock’s Fabric for the material and notions. Hancock had Simplicity patterns for even less – 5 for $5. Grrrr….

Let me back up a bit. Before hitting Hancock’s, I dissected the pattern to figure out what I needed. This saved time and money at the store.  And going into this project with my gal Amy works perfectly. Each cut of fabric needed to be 3/8ths of a yard which leaves a lot left over. But with two of us, there should be very little remnant material.

While shopping (for three hours), I was trying to be mindful of color combinations and textures.  I did make a few substitutions. For example, I am going to use denim instead of corduroy and suede instead of velour.

At the cutting table:

When I got home, I cut out the pattern pieces. Since the patterns are in English, Spanish, and French, I was able to brush up on Spanish (mouth = boca) and learn French (bouche). Oui!

Then, I planned out each page with the fabrics to be used, and put each page’s pattern pieces and fabric into separate zip lock bags. The key to this pattern is going to be organization, I think.

Amy and I are going to tackle one page at a time. There are 8 pages total, so I will be sure to complete one a day, breaking it into manageable parts. And this will help when I go to teach Amy. Our first sewing date is Monday!

Saturday, July 30:


I didn’t prep the fabric since I am not worried about it being washed and shrinking. Easy easy. All I need to do is cut out a pattern piece on the fold and cut one piece of fleece, baste, stitch, and flip it. The seam allowance seems to be 3/8″.

Page 1 (Face and Hands)

Since I am using fabric with a design going in one direction, I need to be mindful about placement of the pattern piece on the fabric. Page 1 will use fabric with hearts. Before cutting, I made sure the hearts were going in the right direction. If I picked this pattern up during week 1, I would not have been aware of this. But after working with plaids, I realize the importance.

While stitching the hand appliques, my needle had a little trouble with the felt. I started using a size 11 machine needle but switched to a size 14 to see if it made a difference. It did! And since you can see the stitch line on the velcro, I added a little felt heart.

After all the applique work, I think I need a pair of applique or embroidery scissors. The “want list” keeps growing. The scissors are in the company of a foot pedal mat, a sewing machine cover, a new ironing board (one that does not attach to my door), a pressing ham, and a hem guide.

Time for the hair. Will this get hairy? I wound yarn around cardboard, placed tape along the upper edge, removed yarn from the cardboard (very carefully), cut the loops, then stitched along the tape line.

All accoutrement are ready for placement on the fabric (the piece without the fleece):

I accidentally ironed on the felt. The poor little guy now has a slight case of psoriasis along the hairline. Another texture, right?  Hair should cover it up.

Once placed:


A note for other pages: I need to change out threads quite a bit. I did not change out the thread when stitching in the hair, so you can slightly see the cream thread against the brown hair.

Monday, August 1:

Amy and my first night of sewing together. She started by cutting out the fabric for the cover. She then basted the fleece to the cover. Too much girl chat, too little sewing. I see her being a real natural! Speaking of teaching, I would love to take a class by Rebekah Apotre over at 504 Stitches. I am going to collect all my questions from these 26 weeks, then sign up. Some questions so far: how to better hem on a curve and how to apply bias tape on a curve. Curves!

Tuesday, August 2:

Page 2 (Flowers)

The flowers were to be felt, but after my experience with buttonholes on thick fabric (week 3) and the need for an iron with the Wonder Under (iron + felt = no bueno), I decided to use cotton fabric instead. The pattern also called for stitching around the petals, but I thought they looked nice the way they were, thanks to the Wonder Under. I tried my buttonhole foot once again, and I am over it. The first flower went smoothly, then hiccups with the next two. The thread kept popping. I am going to hand make the third buttonhole. I think I will be ready for a new machine at the end of this experiment. Oh, Brother.  I want you at my side.

And we have page 2…

Wednesday, August 3:

Page 3 (Cat)

Wow, suede is difficult to stitch. At home, the only needle sizes I have are 11 and 14. Assortment of needles = another item to add to the “want list.” I found this very helpful chart online:

I feel like I need to keep adding to the “new to me” section. I used the zig zag stitch for the first time. I took a “know your machine” class years back. I played with all the different stitches on my Singer (18 stitches total). But this was the first time I really used it.

I grabbed a cat toy from the grocery and pulled the jingle bells out of it, and put it in my cat’s bow. My cat looks like a dog:

I am not excited about this page. Not sew much.

Friday, August 5:

Page 4 (Corn)

So I am not exactly averaging a page per day.

The corn has been the most fun so far.  To create the kernel effect, I stitched back and forth. I had a flash back to quilting from week 2. The husks were a bit challenging, but I repeated, “This is all about learning. This is all about learning.” It’s getting late, and I just nicked the green felt with the iron. It left a green smudge. Calling it quits for the night. I am running behind, but hopefully I can knock out two more pages tomorrow, and two Sunday.

Annnnd, I’m back. I just needed to walk away for a bit.

Page 5 (Butterfly)

I am going to play with the directions a bit for this page. I couldn’t find crinkly paper so the only real texture/fun the piece will have is the lame. Instead of stitching the wings to the page, as the directions say to do, I am going to add a backside to the wings and leave them unstitched, as if the butterfly is flying. I also adding googly eyes.

It’s amazing what a chopstick and the trimming of the edges will do to turning pieces inside out (from “right sides together” to “wrong sides together”). I also cut triangles at the curves of the wing to help it lay better. I learned this with the baby blanket.

The corn page was my most favorite page so far. This is my least favorite page so far.

Saturday, August 6:

Page 7 (Dog House)

The base fabric of this page is flannel. Read this warning:

Guess no flannel PJs for little ones during this 26-week experiment.

I cut out the pieces for the dog house. The first step is to add bias tape around a curved doorway. Tricky. I haven’t worked much with bias tape. I changed the machine needle to a 14 because of the denim and the thread to red, and started stitching. I am pretty pleased with the results:

Time to attach the house to the fabric using the zig zag stitch that I didn’t quite master on page 3 (cat). Zig zags aren’t so bad on straight edges.

Still reading? If you are the first to post a reply that you are still conscious at this point, you get a special surprise.

The pup was a little tricky. I had to improvise…A LOT. My first attempt didn’t go so well. I had to cut larger pieces than the pattern called for to allow for the turning inside out. Where there were boo boos, I covered with brown embroidery thread. The puppy was playing in mud, right?

And when I went to stitch the front of the page to the back of the page, the stitch wasn’t sounding the way I wanted it to…because I had the stitch width set at 5 for basting (used when basting the fleece to the back side of the back of the page). I am learning the sounds of the Singer.

Page 6 (Bird)

I skipped around a bit, tackling page 7 before page 6.

I used linen (from the sailor pants) for the bird and its wing. I used orange polka dot fabric for the eggs and fur for the nest. There was a lot of zig zag stitching on the curve with this page. I then attached the nest to the page with a straight stitch, leaving one side of the nest open to pull back and see the eggs. I added a piece of Velcro to keep the nest closed and added a large googly eye. I really like how it turned out, minus the zig zag stitching. But the black thread (ran out of navy) against the navy fabric disguises it.

And we have another peek-a-boo sitch:

Sunday, August 7:

Page 8 (Shoes)

Time to put on a shoe! I used an old wool scarf that had holes in it as the base of the shoe, then added some felt and substituted Jiffy Grip for a piece of shelf/drawer liner. I have to be resourceful. This hobby can get expensive. I went to stitch the shelf liner to the show. Again, the machine needle wasn’t sew happy. So once I was done with the page, I used fabric glue to attach is to the shoe. Going to use fabric glue to adhere it to the shoe.  The wool stretched a bit when under the foot, so the shoe buckled a bit. I need to find a hole punch to lace up the shoes strings. If I was really feeling industrious, I would use grommets.

And….drum roll please…..

And so the story goes (a feature in an upcoming blog)…

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy

  • I was able to work with an assortment of fabrics, and learned what size needle works best with the type of fabric.
  • The pattern requires A LOT of remnant fabric. I was able to use up leftover fabric from weeks 1 through 5.
  • I was able to reference back to three of the projects from the last few weeks. Goes to show that I am retaining valuable lessons.

Not Sew Happy

  • I want to go from novice to pro…so fast. But I need to realize I am only 6 weeks in, and still have so much to learn. Patience, grasshopper!
  • This project maybe wasn’t the best to choose for a one week turnaround. I probably could have used another two.

Helpful Hints (to self)

  • Try to stay away from super complicated patterns over the next 20 weeks, Jenn. I should have a 20 pattern piece limit.