where the buffalo roam.

i evidently have a thing about dressing my kid like a lumberjack. i promise, it's not intentional. but man does she look cute in flannel. especially buffalo plaid flannel with a pop of yellow. 

i made this shirt using the bolt of clearance flannel i bought at jo ann's. between this and the pencil case, i've now made but a small dent in the five plus yards i bought. my end goal is to make a shirt for myself, but i'm still intimidated by that. adult clothing has shaping and has to fit right. totally not there yet.

so, in the mean time, i'm working up my courage for that by sewing boxy toddler clothing. it gives me a way to practice techniques without getting super discouraged by creating a piece of ill fitting me-clothing. and really, no matter how crummy the sew job is, sticking it on that much cuteness completely makes up for it. even when she's super upset that i won't give her another cookie. (photo shoots take bribing, yo!)

like the lumberjack vest, i made up the pattern for this shirt, basing it off of a store bought shirt. also, like the lumberjack vest, i ended up with a shirt about a size larger than i was going for. measuring would probably help there...

i am really enjoying the process of making clothing from scratch, with minimal experience and the collective knowledge of the internet at my finger tips. i like that it involves a little math, some puzzle piecing, and thinking ahead through the whole order of operations of the process. in the end, i make pages that look like this (complete with margot scribbles) and the floor of our office looks like a fabric store exploded. total bliss.

i know it's not for everyone though, this lawless sewing. most people, i think, like using patterns, with clearly lain out steps. most people, i think, don't like sewing a collar on a shirt, realizing it sticks straight up, ripping it out, redrafting the pattern, cutting a new collar, resewing it on, and then calling it adequate, even though it still gapes quite a bit, but at least it lays flat-ish. but i'm an engineer, so i find the process of repeated failure rather cathartic.

this shirt was pretty heavy on technique practicing, which was what i was going for. it has a ridiculous front pocket trimmed in yellow, which i've had plenty of practice now making. there are also non-functional yellow sleeve tabs, to highlight that carefree, rolled sleeve look. the rolled sleeves are also non-functional, permanently sewed in place, because what toddler is going to stay still long enough to let you roll their sleeves, even with a cookie.

i also successfully (for the first time i think) top stitched two hems in place, for the collar and the lower hem. i used this tutorial for sewing on the collar (treating it like a collar stand and omitting the part about the actual collar). which worked beautifully. i was really sweating getting the collar edge and placket aligned properly, but this method makes it pretty dummy proof.

the most complicated new technique was making the placket (which i learned is the fancy sewing term for the place where buttons go). i used this tutorial, which is for sleeve plackets, but it's the same for a popover-style shirt front. i wanted the underside to be yellow, so i had to piece my placket fabric together. i gave myself a little wiggle room here by making about 1 inch more than half of the placket with the plaid fabric. this way, i guaranteed that all of the front fabric was plaid, even if i didn't line it up completely accurately (which is not a sewing strength of mine). this means that a little of the underside has plaid fabric too, but since you sew the two halves together at the bottom, you never notice this little cheat. it turned out pretty snazzy i think. it's a bit sad at the top, but that's because of the aforementioned collar ripping out that was done. oh well.

it's my most complicated sewing adventure to date and the one that i'm most proud of. hopefully she gets some wear out of it. that's the down side of making toddler clothes i suppose. i'm probably the only person crazy enough to put this much work and detail into something that will be lucky to last through the fall.

margot is obviously unimpressed. she does not think that two cookies is adequate repayment for her modeling work. she plans to unionize in the near future.


  1. I'm impressed again! I like the look of the collar and placket. And I am one of the few fellow no-pattern/trial-and-error sewers. For some reason, that feels like it flows better for me, even if I do have to rip out seams and re-cut sleeves.

    1. glad to know i'm not the only crazy person! i would love to see some of your creations. i miss the old katie blog. deer pants. that song still makes me think of you every time.

  2. I am impressed with you both! I love following a pattern for clothes, definitely for a shirt. Geez! Maybe I could free form a little girl skirt or sundress.... Way to go, Libby!

  3. really cute! I can't believe you did that without a pattern! Maybe I'll try that approach next time, sounds fun. :)