How to save a Christmas shirt!

My four grandkids are the recipients of most of my sewing.  My last project was Christmas-y shirts for all of them.  My two Texas grandsons are 2 & 4 years old.  These were for them.  They were in the mail on Monday, and hopefully they’ll be to them by today or tomorrow.  I bought this Stenzo fabric last year, knowing it would be for this year’s shirts.

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I used my standard Minikrea 50220 pattern but added cuffs with thumbholes.  Good grief, those thumbholes take forever to make.  The fabric was just front panels, and I used extra pieces for the cuffs and neck ribbing, and stash fabrics for the sleeves and backs.  I had absolutely no ribbing that coordinated.  Then, I moved on to making tops for my San Francisco grandkids, ages 3 and 5.  I used a variation on the Minikrea 50220 to make the top for my granddaughter.

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As I was finishing up the coverstitching the neckband on the last t-shirt, I discovered that there was a small hole about an inch down from the band on the back neckline, and I went into panic mode.  So, I pulled out some Stitch Witchery and made a patch using a leftover bit of the front panel.  I think it’s a pretty good save.

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My other sewing this month has been geared toward finally getting at least a bit comfortable with my embroidery machine.  I made a whole bunch of felt ornaments and sent one out in each of my Christmas cards.  Here’s one, straight from the hoop,  before I trimmed it up.

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My other embroidery project was to make pillow cover fronts for 15 throw pillows.  Now, I need to finish sewing those.  Here are a couple pillow fronts.  I used fairly open, simple designs for all 15, and each one is different.  I used my 8 X 12 hoop – a first for me.  I hooped tear-away stabilizer, thin bamboo batting, and the main fabric, which is a natural flannel.  Putting in the batting gave the projects some soft texture.  The batting is my favorite, Dream Orient, and I had a lot of scraps from old projects, but I wound up buying a queen size batt at my local quilt shop to finish up the project, and used about half of it, so I can probably use the rest for a baby quilt.

 

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Today, I’m going to start 4 pairs of Christmas pajamas for my grands.  Because of travel/work schedules, we’re having Christmas on the 28th, so I have a few extra days to get them finished.  And construct 15 throw pillow covers.

As I’m typing this, I’m still heaving a sigh of relief over my cover-the-hole save on my eldest grandson’s t-shirt!  And thinking about how much fun Christmas is going to be.  I love my family.

 

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November sewing, so far.

This month, my embroidery machine got a workout, and then it broke – waaaahhhh!!!  I’d made my eldest grandson, Mac a Paw Patrol t-shirt for his 5th birthday, and he was quite adamant that I make one for his little sister for her birthday.  Here’s Mac in his PP Chase shirt.

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My granddaughter, Waverly, celebrates her third birthday in a few days.  She’s a lover of all things Paw Patrol, especially Skye, so I embroidered a birthday t-shirt for her, too.  Just the same as when I made Mac’s, I cut a rectangle of knit fabric, embroidered this appliqué from Cute Designs 4 Baby on Etsy, same place I got Mac’s design. and stitched away.  The design stitched out great.  Then, I turned it into a simple t-shirt, and I forgot to take a picture of the finished shirt.  Anyway, here’s the design, all stitched out – IMG_7656

I’m not much of an embroiderer, and I rarely use my Elissimo for embroidery, but lately I’ve been taking the plunge more and more.  There’s a real learning curve to appliquéing.    I used Heat N Bond Lite on the back of the woven appliqué fabric, and it truth, I’m sorry I did.  It’s just too stiff.   I need to find something I like better, something with less “oomph”.  But Waverly is happy with her shirt, and that’s all that matters.

After the success of the Skye shirt, I decided to make some more Paw Patrol shirts for my other grandsons.  It was too late for their 2nd and 4th birthdays, so I used appliqué designs from the same Etsy shop, but without numbers.  Again, I appliquéd on blocks of fabric, and then constructed t-shirts.  I use a Minikrea pattern, #50220, for most t-shirts.  Again, the designs stitched perfectly, and I was delighted to put them in the mail for my Texas guys, Graham and Cameron.

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After all that embroidery, I was feeling confident – not a good thing!  I started embroidering a simple Christmas design for a felt ornament, when my machine began making some NASTY noises.  There was a knot in the thread, right off the spool, and when it got to the machine guts, it hung up, the needle broke, and so did my machine.  My closest repair shop is a 2-hour drive away, over a mountain, but my husband volunteered to play chauffeur, so off we went.  He drove, I knit, and my machine is now at the shop for 2 long weeks.  I have a little, basic, back-up sewing machine, but it’s just not the same.

My huge project for Waverly’s birthday was a doll and matching outfits.  I used a Birch Fabrics cotton interlock, Love Birds in Knit, for the dresses, and Art Gallery cotton/lycra jersey for the leggings.  For Waverly’s doll, I used supplies from Weir Crafts, and to make the doll, I used a book called Simple Cloth Daisy Dolls.  Wavy’s dress is CeCe from Children’s Corner, and her leggings are my standard Minikrea legging pattern.  I used patterns from the Daisy Dolls book to make the doll’s outfit, but I narrowed the pants pattern by a couple inches to make it more like leggings.  I used my back-up sewing machine for the doll, using the triple-lock stretch stitch. I used my Babylock Eclipse DX serger, and my much-loved Babylock BLCS2 coverstitch machine to sew the clothing.  I love that coverstitch machine so much!  I got the fabric and pattern from Heirloom Creations.  I saw the bird fabric on their Facebook page, called the shop, and they were incredibly helpful, and even suggested the coordinating solid fabric for the leggings.  Living in the boondocks of northern California, I buy pretty much all my fabrics and patterns online, and their customer service made me want to shop there again and again.

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My next project is flannel Christmas pajamas, 2 in kids’ sizes, and 2 in an adult size – making a muslin today out of some of the weirdest cotton fabric ever for the adults, but I’ll save that for my next post.

And a note – I have no affiliation with any of the places I link, but if I’m happy with something, I’m glad to share.

 

And, it’s been a month

If only I’d get into the habit of posting more regularly!  Here’s this month’s sewing.

For my grandson, Graham, a pair of pajamas in size 6.  I just about always use Peekaboo’s Alex and Anna pajama pattern, and I generally go up a size or two, since my grandkids are not fond of the skin-tight, sausage-casing pajamas that are dictated by US law related to fire hazards.  If my grandkids were running around a campfire, I’d rethink this, but they’re not.  I cut out motifs from the pants fabric and appliquéd them onto the top.  That took me at least as long as all the rest of the making.  It’s just not my forte!  In the past, I’d made another grandson a shirt from the Crazy Bird fabric, and I had just enough to use it for these pjs.   This little guy lives in Texas, so his mother requested short sleeves, thank goodness, or that PJ top would have had black sleeves.

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Next sewing was for my granddaughter, Waverly.  The pattern I used was Sakura, from the French pattern company, Ikatee.  Luckily, the directions also come in English.   The pattern was very easy, and went together well.  There’s also an option for a dress with the pattern.

I used a double gauze fabric from Gauze Fabric Shop on Etsy.  They have two different lines of double gauze.  I bought a cut of each.  This is their regular double gauze, not the Sunny Saloo line.  I pre-washed and dried it in the machine – good idea, since that brings up the texture and also shrinks it – it shrinks quite a bit, as does every bit of double gauze I’ve ever used.

Embroidery was Bunny In Flower Circle from Embroidery Library.  Machine embroidering is always a challenge for me.  I don’t do it often enough.  I asked a bunch of questions in a machine embroidery group on Facebook, and got some good clues on embroidering on double gauze.  I didn’t want to lose too much of the texture, so I chose a very open design, barely pressed the fabric, and floated a block of fabric on a piece of hooped cutaway, and then cut out the bodice front after it was embroidered.

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After that, I tossed together a couple pairs of pants for Mac, my 5 year old grandson.  He and his parents really like this pattern – it’s a drop-crotch style, and I use Minikrea 50333.  They don’t look like drop-crotch on the pattern cover picture, but they’re a moderate drop, not a huge drop like some of the MC Hammer patterns that are out there.  These are quick and easy, and Mac calls them his “comfy pants”.  That makes me smile.  He likes the version with pockets.  What little one doesn’t love pockets, and they’re a super easy version of the incredibly easy basic pattern.  They’re included in the pattern!

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Since I was sending him red pants and gray pants, it seemed natural to make something to go with them. (his mother, my daughter, went to undergrad at Ohio State, so they are fans of anything scarlet or gray.  O-H!!)  For this, I prepared by going into my usual pre-embroidery panic.   I downloaded a new embroidery/applique project and again asked for help on Facebook.  I stabilized a piece of knit fabric with some iron-on tricot mesh and then floated it on some hooped tear away.  Yes, I know they always say “If you tear it, don’t wear it.” but I threw caution to the wind, especially since it was all appliquéd with woven fabric.  I did slide a bit of cut-away underneath the light beams, just to be safe.  And after it was all finished, I fused another piece of tricot onto the back of the whole design to cover over the stitching so it would be nice and smooth on the inside.  It all seemed to work out.

Once again, I used a Minikrea pattern for the shirt, pattern 50220.  They are my “always” patterns for basic t-shirts .  If you use them, please remember to add seam allowances to the pattern pieces.

The firetruck appliqué was from Sew Grammie.  As always, I approach machine embroidery with trepidation.  This design stitched out really great!  I only had one boo-boo in the whole thing.  I had the audacity to walk away from my machine, and it always seems to know.  My thread tangled near the spool, and my needle broke.  Luckily, it was an easy fix, and no harm came to my applique/embroidery work.  After it was all finished, I cut out the t-shirt and sewed it together.

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I had this fun panel and coordinating fabric mellowing in my stash for at least a year.  I bought it from someone in a Facebook destash, so I don’t even know where it’s from.  The pattern for the top is from George & Ginger, the Mini Swagger Sweater, but sadly it’s no longer available.  The leggings are another Minikrea pattern, #50330.  I’ve been using this pattern for Waverly, who will be 3 years old in a few days, since she was a newborn.  It never fails me!

 

And last sewing of the month was two hoodies for Mac & Waverly.  Their mother picked this fabric, which I love, and requested zip-front hoodies!  It’s a French Terry from FrolleinS.  The pattern is Hatteras from Hey June.  It’s a nice pattern, and it went together well.  I skipped the front pockets as shown on the pattern and added side seam pockets – an easy thing to do.  The pattern calls for covering the edges of the zipper on the inside with bias tape.  Instead of doing that, I topstitched it, using 2 needles, with my coverstitch machine.  I also did the hood front edge hems with the coverstitch.  Since they were wearing them as jackets, I sized up from their usual sizes 3 and 5 to sizes 4 and 6 – it worked out well.

Here’s my handy sewing hint for doing hood front hems with a coverstitch – turn your differential up a few notches!  That way, you will get a hood front edge that isn’t all wavy and wide and baggy.  The hood front will shape just a bit, and lay so much better when worn.  I have a Babylock BLCS2 coverstitch that is the love of my sewing room life!

 

Yesterday I cut out a few more things, and hopefully, I’ll post again before December, since this has gotten a bit TL:DR.  Sorry!

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Halloween Fun

After consulting with my daughters on halloween shirts for my 4 grandchildren, I bought some Halloween fabrics at a pre-sale.  They each picked the same fabric, and not knowing what I was going to make, I bought 4 yards of some gloriously Halloween-y fabric from FrolleinS.  Sandy, who owns FrolleinS, has such great fabrics, the kind that I love – always great quality, usually organic, and mostly from Europe.  She also has fantastic service, too.  Her orders go out quickly, and she’s fast to respond to questions both through her shop’s contact form and through Facebook, where she has a nice chat group.   It’s a great place to get inspiration and to find out what’s upcoming in the shop.  Right now, she’s getting together a pre-order for some AMAZING sweater knits.  I’ll be buying.  Just so you know – I have no affiliation with FrolleinS.  I am simply a super satisfied customer!

Two of my grandkids, 4 year old Graham, and 2 year old Cameron, live in Texas, so their mother requested t-shirts.  My go-to t-shirt patterns are from Minikrea, a Danish company – one in set-in sleeves, and one in raglan sleeves.  Like so many European patterns, seam allowances need to be added.  These patterns are printed on heavy paper and are multi-size, so I trace off what’s needed.  There are sewing instructions for the t-shirt, and then there are pieces and parts to make alternate views.  With a little sewing knowledge, it’s easy to make the other views.  Here are the front and back views of the set-in sleeve pattern.  It’s simple and useful, and it has so many sizes that I’ll be using it for years to come.

Here are the two finished t-shirts.

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My other two grandkids, 5 year old Mac, and almost-3-year-old Wavy, live in San Francisco, where it’s usually chilly, so their mother requested a hoodie and a cardigan.  For the hoodie, I used my favorite hoodie pattern, a free one from Brindille & Twig

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For Wavy, I used my new pattern-love pattern, the Tess Cardigan from Violette Field Thread.  Size up one size if you decide to make this pattern.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Because it was a large-scale print, I eliminated the separate front bands on the Tess Cardigan.  I added about 2 1/4 inches to each center front, folded some of it back, and coverstitched it down.  I used the awesome heirloom buttonhole setting on my Babylock Elissimo to make the buttonholes.  They are perfect for knit fabrics like this cotton/lycra jersey.  I’m so glad I discovered that setting.  Maybe I should read my manual more often!

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Hattie and Tess revisited and a few other things

I spent a few days visiting with my younger daughter’s family in San Francisco and got some photos of my granddaughter in her Hattie and Tess outfit (Patterns from Violette Fields Threads).  I was disappointed that the sleeves were cut on the fold, but there’s enough room in the dress that it doesn’t seem to affect her movement.  I still wish more PDF pattern makers would learn how to properly draft sleeves!  A few more words on these patterns – use the measurement chart!!!  I have to go up one size from ready-to-wear when I use Violette Fields Threads’ patterns.  Luckily, I’d read that their patterns don’t quite go along with a standard size from a retail store before I sewed one.  I am completely sure that if I’d have made my granddaughter’s RTW size, these would have been too small. Anyway, here’s Miss Wavy Belle in her new outfit.   IMG_1567IMG_1578

I couldn’t go to San Francisco without something for my grandson, Mac-a-doodle.  Mac is quite fond of puffins, and when I found this puffin fabric in a wonderful French terry, I knew it was perfect for him.  The pattern I use again, and again for hoodies is a free pattern from Brindille & Twig.  I like everything about this pattern except that it only goes up to a size 5-6.  Mac is now in the largest size, and I make him lots and lots of hoodies.  I have a Minikrea pattern that I like almost as well that goes up to 10 years, but I really like the way the hood is made on this one.  I suppose I could figure out how to do it on the Minikrea pattern, but I’m a see-and-sew kind of person.

My current project is all about Halloween.  I’m making 2 t-shirts for my other two grandsons, Honey Graham and Sweet Cam – they live in Austin, TX, so short-sleeved t-shirts will be much more useful than hoodies.  Wavy Belle is getting another cardigan, and Mac-a-Doodle is getting another hoodie.  All of them are in this completely awesome fabric from FrolleinS.  I definitely over-estimated when I bought this fabric on a pre-order.  I bought 4 yards.  I still have just over 2 yards remaining after cutting out size 3T and 5 t-shirts, a 5-6 hoodie, and a 4T cardigan.

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Autumn is near

With autumn approaching, it was the perfect time for Violette Fields Threads to release the perfect pair – the Hattie Dress, and the Tess Sweater.  And bonus, there’s a bundle to get them at a two-fer price!!!

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I had a couple questions on the Hattie Dress as I sewed along, and it was great that the designer, Cassie Nicole, sent me a Facebook message, and answered my question, with an explanation of her method.

Anyway, on to the Hattie and Tess sets.  The first one, for my darling granddaughter, looks a bit rumpled, but the dress fabric is a very textured, all-cotton, seersucker-esque plaid.  I pre-washed it, and the texture really appeared.  I’ve used this fabric in the past, and my daughter loved it for my grandson in some coveralls, so I’m sure she’ll like this Hattie dress.  The Tess sweater fabric was something I got a couple years ago from FrolleinS.  It was waiting patiently for just the right pattern, and I only had half a yard – bought the last of this color way, and that was all I could get.  The sweater, amazingly, takes only half a yard up to a size 7, so it’s very economical for those pricey European knits, and it’s made to be self-banded, so no searching for coordinating ribbing.  Wow, do I like that, since I’m Mrs. Fussy Pants when it comes to that sort of thing.

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I sometimes sew for a friend who has a darling little daughter named Em.  My friend used to own a fabric business, and I am more than happy to sew in exchange for fabric.  Em’s dress is a poly/cotton plisse, source unknown, and a European cotton/lycra jersey sweater that may be from Lillestoff, but I’m not quite sure.   I love the counterpoint of the feminine flowers and the pink construction vehicles.

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The dress has two alternative front closings, one with a placket that goes just to the waist, and the other with a full button front.    I chose the one with buttons all the way down because it was much easier to conceal the seam allowance at the waist edge with that view.  With the view with a placket that only goes to the waist, it would take a lot of fussing to get that seam allowance fully enclosed.

Of course, that meant I had to make even more buttonholes and sew on more buttons – 27 buttonholes and 27 buttons – Babylock to the rescue.  I love my Babylocks, and I’ve used my buttonhole gizmo often enough that I only had to rip out less than one half a buttonhole, and that was because my thread half broke and unplied somewhere up in my sewing machine and I had a nest above the needle.  So, I changed needles and moved on.  My seam ripper and I are good friends, so it was quick and easy.   I used standard, narrow buttonholes on the dresses, and took my width from a 5 to a 4.5 so I’d have plenty of room to slash and open them up.  As I groused about sewing on all the buttons, my friend reminded me that my fancy sewing machine also sews on buttons.  Yes!!!

On the sweaters, I switched to a 90/14 jersey needle, and the heirloom buttonhole setting.  It works really well on knits and doesn’t pucker them up like a regular buttonhole stitch.  I learn something new every time I sew!  I also used stabilizer over and under those buttonholes – some of the stuff that looks like plastic wrap.  You tear it off after you’ve sewn your buttonholes, apply a hot iron, and the little leftovers disappear.  I am HAPPY with the buttonholes!

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The pattern calls for a full bodice lining.  I like a nice, smooth lining, and I usually use Imperial poly/cotton batiste.  It never needs ironing, and I have not found it to shrink.  Plus, it’s soft and comfortable against the skin.  Because the lining was going to be exposed at the neck edge/front opening, and I didn’t want to fully line the front with the main fabric, I sewed together some lining fabric and 3 inch wide strip of main fabric for each front bodice lining piece, and cut out the front bodice lining pieces from this color-blocked fabric, so the inside of the dress front bodice is mostly lining material with that band of main fabric along the inside front edge.

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The skirt have a cut chart, and the widths vary by a couple inches according to size, starting at 39 1/2 inches for a 2T, up to 42″ for size 9/10 but I used the full 44″ width of the fabrics, since it was easier than cutting off a couple inches from inches parallel to the selvedge.  The skirts are two full widths of fabric, and darn, that’s a lot of fabric to hem, so I got lots of practice with my blind-hem foot on my sewing machine.  It was worth a bit of practice to get it adjusted right.  Those two 80+ inch hems were done in no time, and they look pretty darned good.

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My one issue with the pattern is that the sleeves are cut on the fold.  I’ve been around the sewing block often enough to know that, particularly on a woven fabric, there should be more fabric in the back than in the front.  I really wish people in the pdf world would learn this simple thing.  I haven’t yet seen these garments on my granddaughter or on my friend’s daughter, but I’ll be looking at that area in particular and posting an update when I see my granddaughter in 9-10 days.

Other than that, the patterns were a simple, if time-consuming sew.  I am slow, and picky and easily distracted, so it’s me, not the pattern, although hand-gathering those skirts was a chore.  I have a Johnson Ruffler machine, but when I want a specific width gathered to a specific, smaller width, that just doesn’t work.

Things went together well on both the dress and the sweater.  I was thrilled that the front and neckband pieces fit perfectly.  I sure hope the cardigans fit.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that pattern.  My granddaughter lives in San Francisco, truly the home of Sweater Weather!  She just started preschool, so she’s out the door in 60 degrees every day – just the right temperature for a cute, little cotton/lycra cardigan.

FWIW – I have no relationship with any companies mentioned in the post.

 

 

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Doggy duds

I applied to be a pattern tester for Sew Bratty Patterns to trial some doggy t-shirts.  It was such a fun test, and I loved seeing all the different dogs and cats (yes, CATS!) in their t-shirts as we worked on making the pattern user-friendly and well-fitting.

My dogs, Kelly the boxer, and Minnie the Frenchie, are both rescues.  Kelly was a super shy, scared 4-5 year old who was at a dog pound.  She wasn’t the kind of dog everyone wants to adopt, but I looked at her, and she looked at me, and the deal was sealed.  She was scared of everything from darkness to loud noises.  Four years later, she still cowers occasionally at a loud noise or a swift movement in her direction.  And boxes – she cringes when I carry cardboard boxes around.  I have no idea why, but those scars run deep in her brain.

She had no clue what a toy or a ball were for, and she still doesn’t, but we knew she deserved doggy joy in her life.  About 6 months after she found her forever home, I saw Minnie on a rescue website.  She had her own set of issues, but we arranged for a meet & greet, anyway, and she came home with us.  She’s affectionately known as “Minnie the Maniac”.  She definitely knows what toys and balls are for, and is quite happy to “kill” ever one she gets her mouth on.  When Minnie & Kelly romp and play together, it gives me such a good feeling, knowing that they are happy in their forever home.

So – those are my beloved dogs, and here they are in their t-shirts.  First test was this one. Kelly is looking not-so-thrilled – she really wanted to walk away.  Minnie is always willing to sit for the camera.  First test fit ok, but Kelly’s was a bit short and tight.  For Minnie, I made the “bulldog chest” adjustment that’s super easy, and is given on the pattern.  Minnie’s was pretty much perfect.  IMG_1441

Second test – these were straight from the pattern – no adjustments.  Minnie’s was a great fit, and Kelly’s was a bit short, and the neckline was a little too low in the back, but overall, the fit was good.

 

Third test was the charm.  Minnie’s was a perfect fit without any adjustments.  Kelly was at the upper end of the range for her size, so I added to the length, and it turned out great.  The pattern is easy to adjust, and the designer illustrates adjustments for a perfect fit.  Minnie was, as usual, ready to pose.  Kelly was exhausted from a morning romp, so she was laying down on the job.  IMG_1459

In all honestly, my dogs will never wear clothes, but I have a favorite dog rescue, and after contacting Lone Star Dog Ranch Rescue, they said they’d be happy to have them.  They often have rescues with skin issues and surgeries, so they can put these t-shirts to good use.  I’ll probably make more when I have extra fabrics – I used cotton/lycra knit for the main part of the t-shirts, and cotton/lycra ribbing for the bands, although other testers used their main fabric as ribbing, so ribbing is not obligatory.

I’m currently working on some Violette Fields Threads patterns – Hattie dress and Tess sweater.  Stay tuned 🙂