Category Archives: Clothes

The Two and a Half Year Dress

Oh man, I am excited. I had been working on a couple of form-fitting dresses when I found out I was pregnant with Ken. Those dresses quickly got put on the back-burner due to my increasing belly. And due to the copious amounts of pizza I consumed during pregnancy, I wasn’t in a hurry to finish the dresses.

So they sat in a bag in my sewing room for about two and a half years. Scared, I opened the bag in March, just to assess the situation. How much had I gotten done? Are they even worth finishing?

The dress(es) in question were from this pattern – Simplicity 3835.

You might remember I already made this dress in purple in August of 2009 and entered it into the Iowa State Fair. 

I had plans to make three more dresses – the long version – because I loved it SO MUCH. So, two of the dresses were 90% and 60% done. Two really good things happened, 1. I had already installed both of the zippers (hard part over!) and 2. THE DRESS FIT!!!

I finally finished one of them last night, here are the results:


So excited. I found this fabric in my mom’s quilt stash. And there wasn’t enough, so the next time she saw the fabric dealer at a quilt show, she got more. Did I mention that my mom has fantastic taste in fabrics? If you’re wondering, the fabric is by Stephanie Brandenburg and you can buy her other designs here (or at Fern Hill in the beautiful Amana Colonies in Iowa).

Hopefully I’ll get the other one finished next week and get some photos up. OWLS 🙂

Dresses, boots and peas

I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any new clothes until at least Jan 1, 2011. I failed. But how could I not when Walmart was clearancing this Miley Cyrus dress?! FOR $1. ONE DOLLER.

I know this is a creative arts and blog, so I have a point. This has a racer back (photo), elastic waist, stripes, ruffles and denim. Not sure what else this girl could ask for. 

Before I found this dress on Sunday, I had just (and I mean, that morning) finished the adult version:

This is Simplicity 2375 – I did the unthinkable. I used similar (as close as I could get) fabrics to the ones on the pattern. I know, I’m a traitor to pattern sewers everywhere. But I couldn’t help it, I really loved it! So, black and white stripeys on top, denim on bottom. This pattern was super easy – not only is the zipper a lie, but so is the skirt placket. I can’t wait to pair this with tights, boots and a turtleneck. 

Boots. It’s *almost* boot season. I needed wanted a new pair, so, I made my own. 

Sweater boots! I picked up this kids large sweater for a quarter at a garage sale last weekend (garage sales didn’t count in the no-clothes-buying promise), loosely followed this tutorial, and this is the outcome. I’m pretty jazzed. 

I say I loosely followed the tutorial, because its pretty basic. The photos will explain HOW to glue the sweater to the shoe – use plenty of glue. The last thing you want is your boot falling apart in the middle of the grocery store. I skipped the part about embroidering on the cuff, I chose a kick ass sweater instead. 

One issue I had was trying to figure out which sides to sew together to get the cuff to turn out correctly (as in, right side out). Oh, and before you get to the cuff, you have to turn the boot right side out (after gluing) – this was tough also. So although I recommend using a thicker sweater so the boots stand, a heavier sweater would be harder to turn right side out.

I’ve also been spending the last few weeks working on some recycled plastic bags and purses (entry for later). ALSO, been mass producing baby food – peas, squash, sweet potatoes. Ken has loved every food he has tried (knock on wood).

"More peas, please!"

Google Fashions

Hello crafters and non-crafters. I am back, altho, I never really left. 

August was full of crafting, Kenneth, running, Kenneth, Iowa State Fair, and the Ray Family Summer Extravaganza 2010. Some highlights included:

  • Kenny finally getting to meet Uncle Andrew and Aunt Leah
  • Kenny seeing his first butter cow
  • Kenny’s baptism
  • Daniel Ray (my dad!) became a two-time BLUE RIBBON WINNER at the Iowa State Fair (some people don’t even get one blue ribbon in their life – and in a food category? That’s even tougher!) [click on the link for the press release]
  • Garage sale t-shirts
  • Not sure this is a highlight, but I am back at work full-time, and Kenny started daycare (and loves every minute of it)

So to start we’re gonna back up. Here’s a couple of projects I made in early August.

The Google Dress


This is a super cute pattern from Generation-T, project 22 in Generation-T Beyond Fashion. It’s a cute babydoll dress. I made a few changes to the pattern. First off, the pattern calls for you to use a fitted shirt for the top part, and a baggy shirt for the bottom. I really wanted to use the Google shirt, so I used a pattern (I used this same bust-top pattern for my maternity dresses) for the top. And I added the pockets myself, because pockets are awesome. 

Perfect to pair with leggings or jeans for the weekend. 

One of the best parts about the Google t-shirt is that my super awesome husband got it at a garage sale for a quarter. A QUARTER. I love garage sales.

Stretch & Sew 1308


This is a shirt I’ve made before. Classic Stretch & Sew pattern. I wanted to make another one of this shirt because I LOVE LOVE LOVE my leopard print one. But I wanted it longer. So I added three inches. Issue: I love the leopard one because it’s not form fitting while I’m losing the baby weight. Three inches added just enough to make it clingy. Plus the fabrics are different. Here’s the back:

The Back.


And of course, your Ken update:

Ken Bear, at the Iowa State Fair

One-hour Dress

Another pattern from CraftStylish/SewStylish! This dress was in the spring SewStylish magazine – very cute and very easy!

Magazine dress, so cute!


The final product!


I followed the instructions as close as I could. You can follow along here.

Took my measurements and inserted them into my diagram (yeah, you’ll want to check out the link above). Couple of issues:

1. A 3-inch and 12-inch shoulder wasn’t enough for me. With my measurements, that made my neck hole HUGE – half falling off the shoulders and whatnot. That wouldn’t be a problem if I wasn’t making this dress for work. So I think I did like 5 inches on one side, and 12+ on the other (I don’t remember exactly). 

2. The pattern calls for a 7 inch arm hole – from the top of the dress. That comes out to be LESS than 7 inches because you aren’t counting in the seam allowance. Seven inches doesn’t sound likc much, so I half-ass measured from the top of my shoulder to my armpit, and I was right – seven wasn’t enough. So I added two inches. I should have added four, and made a total of 11 inches from the top of the dress to the armpit. So if you’re making this, measure the top of your shoulder to your armpit for that number.

One-hour is pushing it – it probly took me a total of two. But I was doing lots of math trying to get my measurements right. I’m sure the next one will go even faster.

Ummm… Other than that, the directions were right-on. I was kinda dreading the pleat/gathers on the arm, but that took like 2 minutes. I just folded and pinned, then sewed it over a couple of times. 

Shoulder pleats


As you can see, the background is cream (almost white, but not quite), and the polka dots are navy, blue, yellow and rust/maroon. No black. I have a black belt, but none of my other belts fit yet, so I thought I’d make a belt. I cut a strip of fabric and decided to dye it. First, I put it in some black coffee – grinds and everything, left it overnight. Nothing, the fabric didn’t take ANY of the color. I was hoping to turn the strip a light brown. So then I decided to try food coloring. I put some black and red Wilton paste coloring in a glass jar with the fabric, left it overnight again. I couldn’t believe the coffee didn’t do anything, and then I just wanted the fabric to absorb any color. The water was black looking, you couldn’t tell there was any red in it. So what color did the strip turn? Pink of course. The one color I do not wear anymore (burnt out on it in college). 

The pink belt up close.


With the pink belt. Veto.


I think my favorite part about this dress is that my husband loves it too!

Look Mom, no hands!

I was too tired and swollen during my pregnancy to get some good sewing in – so as soon as I got Kenny home, I went on a sewing binge (ok, a few weeks later). Here’s what went down (so far):

Simplicity 2449

This skirt belongs to my friend Michelle. It’s pretty kick ass. It’s Simplicity 2449, just a basic elastic skirt, six panels. Went together fast, and looks great! I think it looks so fantastic because of the fabric, she did a great job picking it out!

McCalls 5659

Ok, I’m starting with the pattern on this one. I shouldn’t admit this (Mom, please don’t be upset!!!) but… I fell in love with this pattern because of the black and white dress. Ahhhh! I know better than to pick a pattern because of the fabric they chose, mainly because they pick ugly ones. If I could have found that exact fabric, I would have an identical dress – minus the things on the yellow band. 

The title of my blog, “Look Mom, no hands!” is based on this dress. Here’s why:

1. I am borrowing my mom’s serger. That means I brought it to my house and used it without her supervision. She has always changed the thread for me. I’ve used it while she was in another room, but it was a big deal for me to bring the machine 20 minutes away. I insisted on watching her change threads before I left with it. Thank goodness I did. She also mentioned that once I got it threaded, to pull up on the thread to make sure the tension was tight.

Now, in all of the times I’ve used it, I have NEVER had thread break, I have NEVER had to have her rethread anything. So, of course as soon as I get it set up and about 3 inches in, I realize that one of the threads isn’t moving because it’s tangled with another. Rethread. Thread ran out. Had to go buy new. Thread broke, rethread. Machine is threaded, but threads are not tight on fabric… pull on tension, thread breaks, rethread. I was determined NOT to have to call my mom and make her drive 20 minutes to help me, or to pack ALL of my stuff and head back to her house. I’m so glad I listened to all of her advice. Eventually, I got the serger working, and all of my projects done. 

2. The top band of the dress is tricky – sew here, here and here, turn right-side out, pin to dress, turn inside out, clap three times. Tricky for me anyways, these collar things always confuse me. However, I took my time – read the directions, sewed, seam ripped, and sewed again. I ironed too (I never iron). It worked, I should take my time more often. 

So here you go mom, I did it! All by myself! I troubleshot the serger, and read a pattern. It was like riding a bike no handed – you don’t really have to learn, but you should, and when you do, you’re pretty proud 🙂

McCalls 5659


McCalls 5659 - belted

I was soooo proud when I finished the dress, I rushed upstairs and put it on to show my husband, who proceeded to tell me it looks like a mu-mu. Well, his initial reaction was much nicer, he knew I was excited about it. He doesn’t like many of my big dresses. I said that I could belt it, he really liked that idea. So now I wear it with a belt 🙂 I think I like it better too – except the pockets AND belt make it look funky. I bought fabric to make another, so I think I will omit the pockets but add the border at the bottom of the dress (see the pattern photo).

Kumquat, Frolic, Onesies and Monster Cookie Cake

Finally had a chance to clean my living room, and halfway convince the weather to cooperate so I could get a few pictures of the freshly painted walls. A big Thank You to Beckey and Tim for painting over Easter weekend. I really appreciate it, and, my living room looks flipping awesome. 

Living Room


Vintage blue chair from my Grandma Drevs, in front of one green wall


A very happy Mr. Fish, enjoying his new home (but missing his Gma and Gpa).

For those of you playing the Sherwin Williams Home Game, the colors are

  • 6648 Kumquat (orange)
  • 6703 Frolic (green)

So, baby is arriving soon (not soon enough) and instead of playing games at the shower, I suggested that all of the guests decorate onesies for him to wear over the next year. And by “suggested” I mean, I didn’t let a few of the guests leave until they completed the task. They all turned out great, and baby is so excited to start wearing his new clothes!

Click on the image to see them up-close

Tomorrow is Brian’s birthday! He’s doesn’t eat cake, so I couldn’t make him some fun fancy birthday cake. I decided on making him a giant Monster Cookie Cake, since he loves monster cookies. I did a little research and found out that you can use any cookie recipe, just make sure to cut back on the heat, and cook it a little longer. Also, leave the cookie on the pan while it cools – it will continue to cook. I cooked this on a pizza pan (was going to go the pizza stone route, but it would have taken at least two stones). 

Happy Birthday, Brian, I love you!


  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbs white syrup (or more, whatever, I never measure, I just pour.)
  • 1 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 c oatmeal (or more, depending on if you use the correct amount of peanut butter)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of M&Ms

Directions for Cookie Cake

  • Cream butter and sugar. Add other ingredients one at a time. Mix well!
  • Spread evenly on pizza pan. Make sure the middle isn’t thicker than the outside, that’s the toughest part to cook. If your dough is already to the edge of your pan, you might want to consider taking some of it off. Cookies spread, you don’t want to waste cookie by feeding it to the oven floor. I cooked mine at 250 for… maybe 25 minutes. I could tell the bottom was just brown, but none of the edges were burnt. These cookies normally cook at 350 for … however you like them done. 

Knit to Woven: Dress or Tunic?

My mom sewed a lot of clothes when she was younger. Back in her teens or 20’s she bought some fantastic fabric and made a shirt (or dress) – and she LOVED it! Until she saw some pregnant chick wearing a dress/shirt from the same awesome fabric. And then she never wore it again. The moral of the story: There is a TON of really bland and horrible maternity clothing out there, and I refuse to wear it. I’ve decided just to buy larger flowy shirts/dresses and make it work. So, I’m sorry to any of you non-pregnant women out there who are wearing the same clothes as me. 

Target has some really cute dresses that are knit on top with thick elastic around the rib cage or natural waist, and either knit or cotton for the bottom.

Both from Target. Left is from fall (doesn't currently fit); Right is from this spring (currently fits).

These are super cute, and I’ve wanted to buy about 100 more (there are REALLY cute ones in the kids section too!), but as it turns out – some of them aren’t flowy enough to accommodate my expanding belly. So I decided to make my own.

Dress Ingredients: Husband's old work shirt, knit fabric (extra stretchy for my current figure!), elastic and optional pattern (for knit top)

First things first – lets get this knit top out of the way.

I still haven't mastered the art of knit hems, so the neckline was a little wormy. My solution was to add a couple of pleats, I think it did the job.

McCalls 6031

I used the top pieces from this knit dress pattern for my dress. You could use any dress pattern that had separate top and bottom piece – depending on where you want the waistline to sit. I wanted mine up high since I actually have no waist right now.  If you’re a seasoned sewer, you might not even need a pattern for the top part, I mean, depending on your talent, and how fitted you want it to be!

In a previous life, these pieces were sleeves

This picture above is one of the sleeves, seam ripped and cut in half. Brian’s shirt fit when I put it on, but I wanted room to grow, I’ve got two months left! So I decided I would add a couple of inches to each side – which really came out to about 8 extra inches, but that’s ok. The dress won’t be tight! Most of you wouldn’t need to add the extra panels so you can skip this step. Just lay the shirt out flat, and cut across from underarm to underarm – so you have just the body of the shirt. Seam rip the pocket off if there is one. Sometimes I like to resew them on when I’m done.

Close up. Don't judge my lines. Have you ever tried to sew elastic? Yeah. It's not pretty.

Here is a close-up of the top and bottom sewed to the elastic. 

The bottom was so large that I had to gather it before I could attached it to the elastic. Each is sewed on twice for reinforcement. 

The Dress, on the tiny manne.

The dress, covering the baby bump, or baby shelf.

The dress, doing it's job.

My mom reminded me (after I finished) that I need extra fabric in the front lengthwise to cover my belly! Thank you mom, but I took care of that one! I rarely re-hem the men’s shirts that I restyle – so it was already super long in the front (and back) by default (because I’m lazy). 

Matching brooch.

I can’t wait to wear this ensemble! Spring is *almost* here!