Tinny Dress, Formal Style

I mentioned in the last post that I was planning a flower girl dress for a family Christmas wedding. Here’s the final result, and I’m so, SO pleased with how it turned out!


She makes anything look good, but sparkles + poof + velvet really make a great combination :)

Thank you, An, for creating a fantastically versatile pattern (the Tinny dress), and thank you to Joann for the sparkly overskirt fabric!

Pattern Changes



I modified the sleeve hem. The pleat just didn’t work well with this thick velvet-like material (I’m sure it’s polyseter), so I gathered the center bottom of the sleeve, basted it, and bound it with a narrow strip of the velvet. This turned out just exactly like I was envisioning–I love it!



Another obvious modification is the skirt. I used the gathered skirt pieces and added a few extra inches of width to increase poof-ability. The sparkly overskirt is the same size as the silky underskirt. I gathered and attached the underskirt, inserted the zipper, and then added the overskirt.

You can’t see in the pictures, but for the poofy underskirt I used some stiffer netting as well as thin tulle. I cut the netting from the circle skirt pattern so it wouldn’t need to be gathered at the waist. It goes in next to the underskirt, and on the other side of the netting (so it won’t scratch) is a long length of tulle. It’s gathered at the top and then ruched up from the bottom. I hand-sewed long gathering stitches from hem to waist and then pulled them up to the proper length. (I didn’t make them as sturdy as I should have. They made it through the wedding but are coming out a little now–I need to restitch so she can wear it to church!)


I raised the waist about 1/2 an inch and lengthened the skirt several inches.




Of course the sash isn’t called for in the pattern, but I needed a way to incorporate red and green together (to match her handsome brother!). It’s a long length of green silk-like fabric, folded in half and sewn together. It’s wrapped around her twice with the twist in the middle, not sewn onto the dress that way. This was an easy addition and added so much Christmas spirit to the dress :)


The red velvet is actually a knit, so there was some stretching that occurred while trying to insert the zipper. I don’t know if I stretched it while sewing or if it got stretched during handling and fitting. Regardless, I have never ripped out a zipper that many times in one garment before! :) It turned out good enough, finally!

Also, when I hemmed the sparkly overskirt, I pulled down on it while measuring. So of course, when it poofed back up, it was slightly too short. *argh.* But, live and learn, and it could have been al lot worse :)


So there you have it! A formal Tinny. Anything is possible and if you sew in enough tiny increments, you can even finish large projects! :)

And, along with her big Bubba, we had a stunning flower girl and ring bearer! (Let’s not talk about the behavior at the rehearsals, though… ;) ;) ;) )


Kids Clothes Week, October 2015

So, you know Kids Clothes Week? (If you don’t, and you sew, you should check it out.) People crank out all kinds of cuteness for their children–tops, sweatshirts, coats, dresses, pants, shorts. If you can wear it, someone’s making it. And it seems like a lot of people crank out a LOT of garments. You know, two or three a day? They post gorgeously-styled photos, detailed tutorials for their adaptations, pinterest-ready .png’s, and they’re still making homemade dinners and spending mornings at the park. (And sleeping.) (Ok, maybe not if I believe this post. But that’s how the comparison game works, right? Everyone else is doing it all? :) )

I am not one of those super-people. Far, far from it! :) But I did manage to sew an hour a day so far this week, which is the gist of the challenge. And where did my hour (sometimes more if the kids cooperated) a day get me? (And don’t ask about dishes or laundry.) I made this. (Isn’t it adorable?!?! I love it :) )


This pattern is a re-release of Tinny, published by An of Straight Grain Patterns. It’s a beautiful, versatile pattern that I know I’ll get tons of use out of–there are so many options!

I’ll be making a flower-girl dress for  a December wedding and I needed a pattern with a zipper and puffed sleeves. I found this one (thanks to __) and knew I needed to make a sample to try out the fit and a few of the techniques. I had this red pin-dot cotton sitting around and I’m so glad I used it–the color is so cheerful and the weight is just right for autumn!

Pattern Review


Overall, I loved working with this pattern! An used the “layers” feature to enable you to print just the size you need which was really, really nice. She also includes a table that tells you exactly which pages you need to print for each part of the pattern you’ve chosen.

The instructions are clear (with one exception–the tomoka collar–which I’ll get to in a second) and easy to understand.

I loved her method for gathering the skirt (it’s too hard to explain right here and I don’t want to breach her pattern copyright). I think these are the most even gathers I’ve ever made!

The puffed sleeves turned out exactly how I was envisioning with plenty of puff at the top. And the little pleat at the hem of the sleeve is a really nice touch.


I had only three snags when constructing this dress:

  • The marks for where to start and stop the gathering on the sleeves were so close to the dotted line at the edges of the paper that I accidentally cut them off and had to go back to the PDF file to find them. Not a big deal, but I was a little confused at first as to where they were!
  • The tomoka collar folding diagram wasn’t clear to me. I don’t really know how to explain why it wasn’t clear, but when I tried following the instructions, my result was terribly wrong. :) By looking at my fabric piece and the picture, though, I was able to easily get the intended result. I’m sure the problem was with my understanding of the diagrams, but I wanted to mention it.


  • When inserting the zipper, the pattern directed, “Place the top of the zipper 3/8″ from the top of the dress.” So I did. I put the top of the zipper tape that far from the top of the dress. And now there’s a gap. Oops :)


Adaptations/Future Adaptation Plans

Instead of the sleeve hem method listed, I used a different folding technique to achieve sort of a bias-bound look. I’m not sure I’d do it this way again, but I’m glad I tried it! I’ll probably do a banded sleeve hem on the real flower girl dress. I’ll also probably leave off the collar, since my intended fabric will probably be too thick.

You’ll also notice that I didn’t use an invisible zipper because I didn’t have one and didn’t want to drive to get one. :) I like that this zipper is a little like an exposed zipper and adds some contrast to the back without being too modern-looking. (I have a feeling exposed zippers will end up being one of the things that date this era’s fashions. ;) )

I didn’t stitch down the collar yet, as is recommended to hold it in place. If you plan to use the Tomoka collar, you’ll definitely need to use the thinnest interfacing possible. Mine is slightly too thick, and you can see that the collar pops up very easily.

I also think it would fit my daughter better to remove 1/2″ or 1″ from the bodice length and add it to the skirt length. The proportions seem to be a bit off for her.


Tinny is a fabulous pattern that is well-worth adding to your pattern stash for anyone who sews for little girls (or medium girls, for that matter!).

(And no, I am not an affiliate on this pattern. It’s just that fabulous. :) )

Here’s a link-up with many more fabulous Tinnys. Click the blue box to see the link party. Enjoy browsing!

5 Things I’m Putting in My Freezer This Summer

Fill Your Freezer

Here are 5 of my tried-and-true, favorite, freezable summer goodies! I hope your freezer is filling up with in-season deliciousness :)

1. Corn

The low-prep method: freeze the whole cob, still in the husk. When you’re ready to eat it, throw it on the grill with whatever else you’re grilling. It’s always been delicious for us! These Ziploc Bags are actually big enough to hold an entire cob. (Yes, that’s an Amazon link. Yes, I might get a teeny percentage if you buy them there. You can also get them at Kroger or Publix. :) )

The higher-prep method: Husk corn. Blanch cobs like this: cook for 3 minutes in boiling water, then plunge into ice water to cool. Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from cob, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the “milk” from the cob. Place into freezer bags in serving-size portions. For more information, see my previous post on freezing creamed corn.)

2. Whole tomatoes

I’ve been putting our tomatoes into the freezer as they ripen. When I have a bag full, I can peel them under warm running water (the skins of frozen tomatoes slip right off that way), then process them how I want to.

You can put whole tomatoes into veggie soup, make tomato soup, or blend them right into pizza sauce or marinara. I imagine they would even work for salsa, if you were planning on using canned tomatoes anyway.

3. Fruit

Strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, watermelon; you name it, it probably freezes well! Some fruits lose their color (peaches especially) when frozen, so look into a citric acid color preserver if that’s important to you. But if you’re just going to use them in smoothies or make them into jam later, then don’t worry about it.

  • Peaches tend to form rock-hard clumps when frozen, so don’t pack those bags too full–you’ll be able to break the clumps apart better if only a few pieces are stuck together.
  • Watermelon gives a lovely slushie-like texture to smoothies on a hot summer day.
  • You can make jam with frozen fruit just the same as with fresh. Save the jam party for a winter day and your stove will help to keep your house warm.
  • Frozen blueberries are fabulous in muffins, pancakes, and yogurt.
  • Put frozen fruit, a little water, and a little sugar in a saucepan. Simmer till the fruit breaks down and you have a delicious pancake topping!

4. Freezer pickles

These were a first for me last year. This cabbage slaw is delicious on sandwiches, but you can also use cucumbers for freezer dill pickles and freezer bread-and-butter pickles. You can substitute yellow squash (or zucchini, I’m sure) for the cucumber for some variety. The cucumbers soften in the freezer of course, but the flavor is great for adding to tuna or egg salad, tartar sauce, or anyplace you don’t mind a softer pickle.

Freezer Dill Pickles

Combine 3 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers or yellow squash with 2 garlic cloves, also thinly sliced. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon pickling salt. Cover with water and set aside at least 3 hours. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Combine 1 cup white vinegar with 2 tablespoons sugar. Add cucumbers, 1 sprig fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill weed),  1 teaspoon dill seeds, and 1 bay leaf. Cover and freeze, leaving headspace appropriate for your jar.

5. Field peas

Purple hull peas are a specialty around these parts in the summer. You can put freshly shelled purple hull peas straight into the freezer. When you’re ready to cook, saute a little onion and garlic. Add peas, cover with water, and cook for around 1 hour, until they are as soft as you want them. They cook much faster than dried field peas and are deliciously fresh-tasting!

One-Handed Homemade Bread


Someone, somewhere needs to write a cookbook called “The One-Handed Cookbook: Meals You Can Make with a Baby on Your Hip.” I’m convinced it would be a best-seller if the recipes actually worked. :)

Although this bread isn’t a whole meal, it’s the best way I’ve found to get homemade bread into the oven when there’s a baby in the house. Without fail, the baby  needs to be held at the time you remember to start the bread dough. And it’s awfully hard to put a screaming baby down for an entire 7-10 minutes while you measure, mix, and knead the dough. (Or it’s hard to rescue the crawler with dough on your hands. Or it’s hard to make the toddler wait to play a game for 7 full minutes. Et cetera.)

Enter the stretch-and-fold technique.

I learned it from this free video series on Craftsy: Perfect Pizza at Home with Peter Reinhart. I’d read some of Reinhart’s bread books before, but the stretch-and-fold technique didn’t make sense to me until I saw him do it on the video. And may I just say that his pizza is hands-down *the* best homemade pizza ever! Between his crust recommendations, his sauce (using Tuttoroso tomatoes, via Cook’s Illustrated suggestion) and his suggestions to mix cheeses, our cravings for takeout pizza have diminished significantly. It’s that good. :)

So I adapted the pizza crust recipe to make regular bread dough. You start it in the mixer, do a stretch-and-fold 3 or 4 times, and then let it rise as usual. It always turns out moist and delicious!

I’ll give you the general idea with these photos, but if you really want to know what you’re doing, go watch the video course. It’s free (I don’t even get a commission!), and if you like pizza or are interested in baking bread, it’ll be well worth your time. It may even revolutionize your home bread-baking scene. :)

One-Handed Homemade Sandwich Bread

Add ingredients (see below) to stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, stir just until all the flour is wet and all the water is absorbed.


Let dough rest for one minute. Stir again, just until the dough looks kind of stretchy (or “shaggy” as he says in the videos). This will take approximately 15-20 seconds.


Dump dough out onto an oiled cutting board. (Spread the oil out with your fingers, then use your fingers to scrape the dough out. It’s very wet, so oiled fingers will reduce sticking.)

Press the dough out into an approximate rectangle with wet or oiled fingers.

DSC_9102 Fold dough over on itself in thirds one direction, then in thirds the other direction. It should end up in a ball like this:


Let rest for at least 5 minutes. (This lets some of the gluten relax and the flour hydrate a little bit more.)

With wet or oiled fingers again, press dough out into another rectangle. Fold in thirds again, just like you did before. This time the dough should start to resemble the “smooth and elastic” feeling you get after a few minutes of traditional kneading.

DSC_9105 Let dough rest for at least 5 more minutes. It has seemed to work just fine to wait significantly longer than 5 minutes. (Like if you have to go to the grocery store before lunch time madness ensues. Ahem. :) )

Perform your stretch and fold two more times, ideally. After the fourth time, your dough should seem very smooth and ready to rise, possibly with some air bubbles as pictured below.

DSC_9107 Yes, it’s taken longer than usual to achieve a smooth and elastic dough, but you only had to put in a few minutes of hands-on time!

You may now choose your own adventure: let the dough rise at room temperature or refrigerate it for maximum flavor development. I usually let it rise for 30 minutes to an hour, then punch it down, shape the loaves and let them rise, and then bake it. But it is definitely even more delicious if you have time to let it rise slowly in the refrigerator. :)

To summarize:

One-Handed Homemade Bread


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 scant tablespoon yeast
  • 1 scant tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


  1. Add all ingredients to mixer.
  2. Stir with paddle attachment (not dough hook) for 30 seconds to 1 minute until all flour is wet.
  3. Let dough sit 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir again, 10-15 seconds, until dough looks slightly stretchy and shaggy. Not too wet, but not stiff and dry either.
  5. Oil a cutting board, and with oiled fingers, scrape dough out onto cutting board.
  6. Perform 4 stretch-and-folds at 5 minute intervals.
  7. Let dough rise on counter or in refrigerator before shaping and baking.
  8. Shape into two loaves, let rise until doubled, and bake at 375 for 22 minutes.

 If you try it, I hope you love it as much as we do! :)

Starting Seeds in Milk Jugs

milk jug

Happy spring to everyone! Okay, it may not be officially spring yet, but don’t tell this weather–I don’t want it to leave!

I love starting my own seedlings. It’s cost-effective and it gives more options for varieties to try. There are countless ways to start your own, but my favorite way is to use milk jugs as mini-greenhouses to let the seeds get enough sunshine without being hurt by cold temperatures or rain.


Wash the jug. Cut around the jug enough to be able to open it up, but leave a hinge of plastic so that you can close it back over the seeds. Poke holes in the bottom of the jug for drainage. You can also use vinegar bottles or even 2-liter soda bottles (although I hope you’re not drinking so much soda that you could start a whole garden in soda bottles! ;) ).


I have put seed-starting mix directly into the jug and that’s great for small seeds that you plan to transplant in a bunch. Flowers and herbs work well with this method.


For plants like tomatoes and cucumbers where you’ll want to spread out individual plants in the garden, I’ve planted one or two seeds in a newspaper pot and filled the milk jugs with the pots.



Make sure you label your jugs! But don’t just write on the jug with a permanent marker. The rain washed all my labels right off the jugs last year! This year I used masking tape and wrote on the tape. It’s working much better. :)


I usually put the jugs out on our deck. But last year a giant windstorm came up and blew all my milk jugs off the deck and I lost half my seedlings! That was not a good day. :)

This year I have some carboard boxes (these are citrus boxes; you could ask at your local grocery store for banana boxes and they’d work well too). If I think it’s likely to be windy or stormy, I put the milk jugs into the boxes. This gives them stability and keeps them from blowing around.


Keep the lids from your jugs. If you get a hard rain storm before the seeds have sprouted, you’ll want to keep those raindrops from disturbing your soil and displacing the seeds. If you forget to keep the lids (or lose them), eggshells work marvelously as long as the wind isn’t too hard!


I used a spray bottle to mist the seeds this year after planting. It worked really well and kept the soil evenly moist while not disturbing the seeds.

As your plants are growing, you can keep the lids closed for a greenhouse effect to warm the soil and plants or you can open them up to start hardening them off for transplanting into the garden.

Happy gardening, and if you have tips for starting seeds, I would love to hear them! I’m always open to trying new things and I love hearing from people who’ve tried different things :)