Fox Applique Tutorial and Pattern

This post is waaaaaay overdue, and I’ve been trying to work on it for months. I think I made my fox tee back in April. I don’t have any absolutely amazing photos of it, as creative documentation and I are sort of at odds with one another these days. I’m just excited to finally be sharing!

I’m gonna give a special shout out to my husband, who saved me from the pit of PDF-sharing ignorance and despair. And I’m dedicating this post to Mimi, who never gave up. 

Now that the credits are out of the way…

I give you the fox applique tutorial and pattern. You may remember this design from my *ahem* award-winning version of the Archie Doll.



1. Print and cut.

If you’re making your own tee, the pattern I used is Dana’s Basic Tee. You can find my fox pattern here



I did not include a pattern for eyes and a nose, but you guys should be able to figure that out. They’re just circles and a rounded triangle. 

Oh, and I should say that I did this applique with knit, so, when sewn, the edges will be left raw. And I sewed my applique onto my tee front *before* I assembled it, so that my t-shirt and sewing machine wouldn’t get into a fight. And use a ball-point needle!

2. Determine your placement and start sewing.

I don’t have pictures that get really specific about this, but pin on your first layer (the orange fox face), and sew the edges first. Then layer the whiskers and do the same thing. Now, I placed my whiskers a little high for my tastes, I meant to place them flush with the bottom of the fox face. So that’s the one change I’d make if I were doing this again. 



3. Sew on the eyes and nose.



4. Sew on the white ear pieces. And throw on some eyebrows for good measure.


Then, if you’re making your own tee, assemble it. Boom, you’re done! 



My shirt looks a little weird because I scaled up the pattern to a 5T, but I forgot to make the arms bigger. It doesn’t look as weird when Dex is wearing it. But if you resize a pattern, just remember to resize all the pieces!! 



Dexter has worn this shirt like crazy for the past few months, mostly because I put it on him every single time it’s clean. 

I’d love to see if anyone recreates this! And, as usual, I’m cool with this being used for personal use, but not for monetary gain. 

Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Couture Techniques: The Home Sewer’s Guide to Creating Designer Looks

couture techniques 

I’ve been given the opportunity to review a few books in this line, and I chose Couture Techniques first because I knew I didn’t have the slightest clue about what constitutes couture. And I was right!

I thought couture was just a fancy schmancy term for “expensive clothing made by famous designers.” But really, these garments are set apart for a reason. So much thought and care goes into how these pieces are created, resulting in well-fitting, long-lasting, beautiful clothing.

This book was surprisingly easy to understand. I wondered if I’d just be wading through fashion-industry-gibberish accented by pretty pictures of clothing. Instead I found user-friendly charts and lots of great diagrams that teach you how to do everything, from choosing the right fabrics for your purpose to trouble-shooting common problems in clothing design.

You won’t learn how to draft patterns here, but you will learn a lot about fitting existing paper patterns to your measurements. It has never been quite clear to me how to execute those changes, and I’m certain this will be a valuable resource next time I’m working on my pieces.

The only thing I actually missed were more pictures of the final products. Partially so I’d have a better idea of whether or not I’d like to attempt some of the techniques (a tie collar?? I’ve got to see someone looking cute in that before I’ll attempt it!), but mostly because I like to look at pretty pictures 🙂

I’d be surprised if any intermediate seamstress was disappointed in this book. It might be overwhelming for newbies, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out. I could have benefitted from some of these tips long ago!

*Note: When looking for this book, I’ve seen the title listed 2 different ways. On the cover it says “Home Sewer’s Guide”, but it is listed everywhere as “Home Sewing Guide”. I don’t know how important this distinction is, but I thought I should point it out. I went with what was on the cover!

Tutorial: Easy Robot Appliqué


This story begins with a Bert and Ernie marathon. My son loves Ernie and talked us into watching probably 30 clips on YouTube before nap. He’s very persuasive 🙂

I started thinking how cool it would be to surprise him with an Ernie shirt, and in my search for Ernie inspiration, I stumbled across an awesome it’s-already-been-done tutorial over at MADE. It’s almost exactly what I was hoping to do! But I realized that I didn’t have all the colors I need, and I’m also hoping to do some textures, especially in the hair. So we’re shelving Ernie for later.

But I still had the crafting itch, and it’s been a while since I’ve made something for our family. I’ve been on a steady diet of car seat ponchos (separating zippers, AAAGH), so I really needed something to cleanse the palate.

Dexter has also been deeply immersed in a robot craze, so it didn’t take long for me to change directions.

Step 1: Sketch an awful picture of a robot that you will quickly scrap.


Step 2: Cut out trapezoids for the head and body, rectangles for the legs and feet, and then shapes for the arms and hands. I used a pincher-type hand, and then I wanted the arms to broaden near the hands. The fabric I used was gray t-shirt scraps.


Step 3: Place and pin the pieces. I liked the way the pieces didn’t quite touch.


Step 4: Sew around the edges of the  pieces. I used a black thread, about 1/8” away from the edge. I didn’t use backing, adhesive, or stabilizer, but it might make it  easier to keep the pieces in place if you’re nervous. I didn’t take pictures of the sewing process, so hopefully that’s pretty simple to figure out. Just remember to not sew through all the layers!! You want your shirt to be wearable 🙂 I know this sounds obvious, but it’s exactly the sort of thing I might do without thinking. My robot is still messy in this picture, but eventually clip the threads.


Step 5: Add features! You can use buttons, fabric, stitching, or paint. Be creative! I took a minimalist approach and I love it! I love that I had a deep red button to sew over the “heart” area 🙂



When Dexter saw the shirt this morning, he cheered, “Robot!!!” and I knew it was worth the work 🙂

My little photographer was pretending to take pictures of me with the lens cap. He kept saying, “Cheese!!”



I also like how keeping the pieces separated allows the robot to have a little movement. It’s funny how he looks slumped over when Dex is sitting 🙂



Dexter is not a fan of photo shoots these days. Even though I don’t force him to do anything, besides stand at least 10 feet away from me, there is something in him that just makes him resist  having pictures taken. It must be the genes he got from his dad!! Here’s where we had to break so he could crawl at me, growling like a monster.



And then he rests…


Toddler Hoodie Tutorial

Time for my long-awaited return to the blogging world! This past month has been full of sick family members and other craziness. After my nephew recovered, my son got sick. That was a 2 week ordeal (Thankfully not as intense as it was with my poor nephew!!) and just when it felt like Dexter would never be Dexter-y again, suddenly he was! So things are slowly coming back around to “normal”, if that term can be applied to my everyday life.

Now, let’s get down to business.

hoodie 1

This tutorial will include a walkthrough of how I created and assembled my new toddler hoodie pattern. What it does not currently include is the pattern (boo), but as soon as I figure out how to create and attach printable files I will do an update! Until then, you can create your own pattern the way I did: Take one of your child’s shirts and trace all the pieces, adding about a half-inch seam allowance. Don’t forget how much your seam allowance was (maybe write it on your pattern) because if you don’t sew enough your shirt could be a little big, or worse, too tight if you sew too much. I did choose a roomy cut because I wanted my son to be comfortable and for this shirt to last for several seasons. The sleeves are a little long, but we cuff them.

If you don’t have a shirt that has everything you want, then use multiple shirts to get your pieces! I used a jacket of Dexter’s to trace the hood for this pattern.

Choose your fabrics, and have fun doing it! You can make the shirt entirely out of the same material, but this pattern is perfect for using up scraps! (In another blog I’ll show you just how scrap-friendly this pattern can be!)

You will need 5 total pieces: 1 front, 1 back, 2 sleeves, 2 hood halves. In the following pictures, you can see that I originally planned to just use a regular neckband, but decided to take a chance and make my first hoodie!

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I have LOTS of scrap knit fabric, so I cut the front out of the graphic area of one of my husband’s old tees, and then used a fabric for the back that was similar to the front. Then I used the dark green for all the accent pieces.


Here is a tip for the arms: Cut along the length of an already hemmed tee if you want hemmed sleeves. You’ll learn later that you don’t have to hem at all, but if you want that finished look (and don’t have a serger) this is an easy way to cheat and get it.hoodie tute 7

I did the same thing with the hood, laying my pattern piece so the hem created the part of the hood that frames the face.

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Then put the front and back right sides together, and sew (ZIG ZAG!!!) along the shoulders and sides.

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Next, sew down the length of the sleeves. Do NOT sew around the shoulder curve. You would sew the upper arm of your sleeve shut, rendering the sleeve useless, and making you a big dummy. It’s possible I might have done that one a shirt recently, but I will neither confirm nor deny it in this particular blog post.

hoodie tute 5

Also, if you decide to go with the pre-hemmed look, I suggest that you start your stitches at the wrist side of the sleeve, that way it will definitely match up and look a little neater. (Side note: don’t freak out that I’m using 2 different thread colors. It means nothing other than that I was too impatient to wind a matching bobbin.)

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Attach your sleeves to your shirt. Keep the body of the shirt inside out, but turn the sleeves. Place the sleeves inside the shirt. Match seams at the shoulder first, and then at the underarm if things work out well.

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I did have a problem here. And if upload my pattern and you use it, you will possibly have the same problem. The shoulder of the sleeve was a little bigger than the armhole for the body. The way I corrected this is not ideal, and if you’re OCD about these things, the following truth-bomb might make your head explode: I just folded the excess fabric at the armpit and went on with my life.

hoodie tute 9

It might be a little hard to tell, unless you click to enlarge the picture, but you can see where I’m making about a half-inch overlap here.  I just pinned it with the fold toward the back (I’m not OCD enough to care about the fold, but my seams WILL face the same direction. Always toward the back.) and sewed right over it. I never even see the gather when my son is wearing it. If you’re making this hoodie for a girl and this problem pops up, use the excess fabric to make subtle gathers at the top of the shoulder! It will be a cute addition, and no one will ever know you didn’t plan it.

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Take a minute and admire your almost-finished shirt! I always love this stage because you can see that it’s really happening! Also, it never hurts to model the shirt at this stage to make sure no adjustments are needed! if it’s just way too huge, you could always put a seam down the middle of the front or back. it might not work with every design, but this particular shirt is pretty forgiving. My next blog about the pattern will show how seams can be used effectively when working with scraps, so I’m certain it would work for sizing issues and be just fine.

hoodie tute 11

Next sew the 2 hood parts together (right sides together). Remember to match up your finished edges and sew from there if you want to be certain there won’t be weird overlap.

hoodie tute 13

Ok. There comes a time in every tutorial where I’m so focused on the finish line that I forget to take pictures. This is that time. And I’m not happy that it’s the hood-attachment part, because that took some time for me to figure out. I’ll do my best to explain it verbally, and I apologize if it’s just too unclear.

With this pattern, the 2 sides of the hood will overlap. I marked the center of the back of the shirt and matched the hood seem up with that. I didn’t explain earlier, and when I upload the pattern it will be marked, but the hood slopes down toward the face. the short part is the back.

So, your shirt is right side out this time, the hood attached on the outside, with the right side facing the shirt. Start pinning the neck, matching the centers of the shirt and the hood. When you get around to the front, overlap the sides. This might be preferential, but when the hoodie is on, the left side overlaps the right side. If that’s what you want, pin left side down first, and lay the right side over that. Then sew all around the neckline.

Here you can see the slight overlap of the finished hood.

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Lastly, evaluate any unhemmed areas. (Check the bottom of the shirt, the sleeves, and the hood edge). Either turn those areas under and stitch (I hope you’ve been zig-zagging. Always zig-zag when sewing knits with a regular sewing machine, or your seam will pop when stretched!!) or, you can leave them raw. In a lot of cases it’s perfectly fine to not even stitch, but if you’re worried at all about unraveling, go ahead and stitch near the edge.

hoodie tute 16

And there you have it! A finished hoodie! Clip the treads and trim any really wide seams, and you’re done!

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Put it on your kid and take some awesome pictures 🙂

Dexter wasn’t extremely pleased to model immediately after nap, but he did what he could!

hoodie 2

hoodie 3

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Thanks for making it through the excessive Dexter pictures! I could claim that I included so many so you could see what you could expect your hoodie to look like, but really I was just showing off my baby lol. Send me a link if you try the tutorial!!! I’d love to see other people’s interpretations of the design!

Men’s Shirt Refashion (In Progress)

I’ve wanted to modify a man’s button-up shirt for forever, but I was too intimidated. I’ve been learning a lot about drafting my own patterns, and so I decided to finally tackle the project.

It’s been both fun and frustrating. It’s kind of like playing mad scientist 🙂 I have all the parts to cobble together, and the possibilities are endless. It’s great! But there’s a lot of trial and error involved, and I’ve had to take out quite a few seams. One downside of shirting is that it’s not very forgiving of needle holes. I’m hoping when I’m all done they won’t be extremely noticeable.

So far I’ve cut down the body of the shirt and fitted it with darts and seams and I’ve created gathered sleeves.

IMG_5636 Right now, those sleeves and that neckline look like the prairie-style dresses my mom made in the early 90’s, and homie don’t play that. (Sorry, mom!)

IMG_5636 I plan to V the neck a little and top it with a mandarin collar. Then I’m probably going to try my hand at some ruffles. I think they will be raw edge ruffles. I’m using the existing cuffs from the original shirt. they’re wrist size, so they’re too small to completely close around my upper arms (boo.) The cuffs will just stay open on the outsides and be for decorative purposes. The sleeves will have to be a little tighter to accommodate those cuffs. And I’m shortening them because I tried the cuffs below my elbows and it was too irritating.


I’m pretty happy with how the back turned out. I created a seam down half the back to fit it better, leaving a little gather at the waist. I like the way the existing yoke looks, but it has some gathers the feel weird. Next time, if I notice the original shirt has those, I will take it apart. But I’d gotten too far into the process to stress about that.

The sides will have splits at the bottom for comfort and ease of movement. I hope I enjoy wearing this shirt! I hope to have it done by the end of this week, but it’s been slow-going. I just work on it til I get too annoyed and I pick it back up when I wish I had a new shirt 🙂

Impulsive Sewing Project: Design-It-Yourself Tunic


I’ve been getting antsy to take a break from my (many…many…MANY) current projects in order to make something cute and comfy for myself. I decided at about 9pm tonight to start something! That usually leads to disaster, but so far, it’s going great!

I decided to use one of my vintage sheets because it’s soft and I liked the retro print for the tunic style. (The shirt I’m making is the red one up in the left corner.)

The idea behind Design-It-Yourself Clothes is that you draft your own patterns from your measurements or from existing clothing, making changes to design new styles for your body. I’d already used the book and some internet resources to make my perfect tee pattern. I used that pattern as a guideline for this shirt.

IMG_5316 I lined my pattern up along the centerfold, adding about an extra 2 inches to create the gathers at the waist. I also decided to use the hem of the sheet as the hem of my shirt. It won’t round up at the sides, but I really don’t know how much that matters. As you can see, it only makes about a half an inch difference.

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I then marked where the placket should go. (Placket??? New to me… it’s basically where the buttons go. Google it if you want a better definition 🙂 ) I went ahead and marked this on my pattern in case I decide to make this  shirt again.

This is where it gets tricky. The book gives very unclear directions for a lot of steps. They understandably assume that if you’re ready to design your own patterns, then you’ve obviously made many a placket in your day. So, there was not really an explanation for creating said placket, at least not one that I could really understand. So I felt my way through that one. I had to cut 3 different versions before I even came close. The one pictured above is wrong. It’s just the scraps from the shirt and was way too small. You need, as far as I can tell, 2 strips that are about 2 inches long than the opening and about twice the width of the opening if the front was unfolded. shirt Here’s a really crappy drawing to illustrate. Just pretend the lines are straight and that it was not done in a hurry at 11:30 pm. The dotted lines indicate that you will fold there, or that you have cut those placket pieces on the centerfold.

Next I cut out my back using my tee pattern. This time I cut right on the fold, because I didn’t want any extra material in the back.IMG_5327

Then I pinned my shirt together from the outside and tried it on. That hurt a little… I guess not every pin was pointing out 🙂 But I figured if I could slip it on with pins in it, then getting it on without them would be a breeze. I forgot to take pix as I pinned it and sewed it, but here is a picture of it put together before sewing: IMG_5328 I sewed the placket sides first, starting with the left side (if the shirt was on). This is the side with the buttons. Then I sewed the side with the button holes. I did it in this order because you’ll want the button hole side to overlap the side with buttons.IMG_5332 Then I created the gathers by sewing across the edge and pulling the threads. Then I folded the bottom of the placket pieces under and overlapped them the way they needed to be. I pinned it all together and then top stitched the bottom. Tomorrow I will actually topstitch around the rest of the placket, but it was just necessary to get this part done. This was probably the hardest part, because it requires a lot of agility. it’s a small space and a lot of overlapping bits that want to slide around. Also, you want to make sure you have enough overlap for those buttons and button holes. I barely did, but I was afraid if I made it any tighter, the shirt would be uncomfortable.

Then I easily sewed the side seams and shoulder seams. This is where I decided to stop, because all that’s left are the sleeves and the collar. I want to think about what sleeves I want. I’m leaning toward a loose 3 quarter length with slight gathers at the shoulders, but I’m also really tempted to do sleeveless.

Here’s the shirt on my duct tape double:IMG_5332 There’s a lot of extra room around the neckline. The neckline will curve when I’m done with it, so hopefully that will take out some of that bulk. Also, I’m going to do a little work to the back which should also help. but I’m really pleased with the front view!

IMG_5335 From the side, it’s annoyingly shapeless. But I’m very small on top and my butt sticks out. so that happens 😦 I’m hoping that by making darts in the area indicated in red that the fit will be more flattering.IMG_5337 It’s not bad from the back either, but once again, it could benefit from some reduction in the upper back.

At any rate, I’m very happy with how it’s turned out. Especially for a spur of the moment decision 🙂

Tutorial: Turning onesies into shirts

These were done for my awesome twin nephews, Ty and Micah. My sister loved the shirts, but neither of us really like onesies for our boys now that they’re past the tiny baby stage.

This was a really easy modification. It probably doesn’t even require a tutorial; it’s more to show how something you don’t like as much can be recycled into a piece you’ll use. For example: you don’t want your baby to look like a dork with his polo shirt tucked in.

IMG_4966 In picture, the shirts are already complete. But I cut as close to the legs as possible so the shirts would be long enough.

IMG_4967 This up-close shot shows how I just turned it under and zigzag stitched the hem. As you can see, there is a little waviness to the bottom. It’s hard to tell how much is because of wrinkles and how much is because of warping. But I read recently that you can run a steamed iron over the wavy hem and it will help it relax. I’ll know more after they’re washed too. However, I feel like the shirts are fine for the little boys 🙂 They actually turned out better than I expected. The only thing I’d change if I could is to be able to fold the hem again for extra unraveling security, but I was just afraid I’d lose too much length. Hopefully I’ll get a picture of them wearing them this weekend!