Mermaid Tail for 18 inch doll

Mermaid tails have become something of a trend, and the 13 girls in my home school group sewing class were very excited about joining that trend.

I was trying to find something ‘fishy’ in the dress and costume section of Fabricland but couldn’t find anything that worked. Either it was too flimsy or not the right look for a mermaid tail. I was ready to leave the store but decided to look at the drapery and upholstery fabric ‘just in case’. Well, it was a good choice because we found some beautiful purple upholstery fabric that had a ‘scaly’ look.

Step 1

Cut out and tape together the pattern pieces. I will try to upload the pattern and link it here. But for sewing class, I will print out a pattern for each girl.

Step 2

Lay the pattern piece on your fabric and cut around with a rotary cutter. The fabric we’re using is ‘plasticish’ on one side so we don’t want to use pins because you will be able to see the holes.

If your fabric pattern is one direction cut out your 2nd piece the same way you did the first one. If it doesn’t really make a difference which way you look at it, then cut out the 2nd piece upside-down. Like this…

This way you use less fabric and have less waste.

Step 3

With the right sides of the fabric together…

Clip the pieces together. I use binder clips or clothes pins if I don’t want holes.

We’re going to start sewing at the top, right hand corner.

Step 4

Using a quarter inch seam…

Lining up the edge of the fabric with your presser foot will give you a quarter inch seam on most sewing machines.

Backstitch at the beginning and end and sew around the tail except the top. Remove the clips as you get to them. Remember to leave the needle down when you turn and lift at the corners.

Step 5

Clip the inside curves and corners, and trim the pionts of the fins…

Notch the outside curves…

Flip it right side out and use a pencil or chopstick to push the corners out.

Step 6

Now, we’ll top stitch just the fins part. Top stitching is sewing close to the seam from the top of the fabric. This helps it keep a nice shape.

Step 7

Cut a 10 inch piece of elastic and zigzag stitch the ends together.

Step 8

Fold over the top edge of the tail to make a case for the elastic.

Sew all around the top while encasing the elastic.

Done!

Step 9

Now we’re going to make the top. We’re using a stretch fabric that won’t fray. Cut a 2 inch by 11 inch strip.

Step 10

Fold it in half with the right sides together…

Sew a quarter inch seam on the short edge…

Now you could be done and have a tube top. Just turn it right side out. Or, just opposite from where you just sewed, fold over the edge like this…

And sew it in place…

That’s it!

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Little black doll dress

This post is specifically for our local home school group sewing class. I teach grade 3-6 girls how to sew things for their 18 inch dolls. This post will show step by step how make a black dress with a ruffle skirt.

Each step will be numbered and we will complete a certain number of steps each day at co-op. If you did not finish the required number of steps at co-op you can finish them at home by following the pictures and instructions.

Please do not work ahead. At co-op I and the other teachers will help the girls that are furthest behind so if you are too far ahead you may be sitting and doing nothing while the others catch up.

Here goes…

The pattern for the bodice of the dress will be taken from this book;

We will use the 2 bodice pattern pieces labeled sleeveless party dress.

Step1

Take the piece labeled bodice front, fold over the edge of the fabric

Place the pattern piece marked ‘place on fold’ on the folded edge of fabric.

Weigh the pattern piece down so it doesn’t move while you cut it out.

Using a rotary cutter(it looks like a small pizza cutter) cut out around the pattern. Be careful not to cut into your pattern. You will need to press down hard while you cut or it won’t go through both layers of fabric. If you don’t have a rotary cutter, pin the pattern in place and cut with fabric scissors.

Notice the pattern says ‘cut 2’ so repeat step1.

Step 2

Now take the pattern piece for the bodice back and place on fabric.

Cut out 2 pieces this way. If the fabric you are using looks the same from both sides then cut out 4 pieces. If your fabric looks different from one side to the other then flip the pattern piece like this…

And cut out 2 pieces

Step 3

Now you should have 2 front pieces and 4 back pieces like this…

Take one of the back pieces and lay it on top of the front piece

Now take another back piece an place it on the other side like this

Pin together at the shoulder seams.

And sew a quarter inch from the edge at the shoulder seams only. If your sewing machine needle is centered, just keep the fabric right on the edge of the presser foot like the following picture.

Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end. These next pictures have white thread to show you exactly where to sew.

Repeat step 3 with the last 3 pieces.

Step 4

Unfold the bodice and place it right side up.

Now take the other bodice and place it on the first piece.

Make sure the right sides are together.

Pin the back center seam and neckhole edges together.

Now pin the armhole edges.

Sew along the pinned edges a quarter inch from the edge. When you get to the corner, stop about a quarter inch from the end and leave the needle down…

Lift the presser foot…

Turn the fabric…

Put the foot back down…

And sew to the end of the seam. Don’t forget to backstitch!

Step 5

Cut off the corners like this next picture but be careful not to cut into the seams! You will have to re-sew the corner if that happens.

Cut into the armhole and neckhole edges about every half inch. Again, be careful not to cut too far. Cut almost up to the seam but not into it or you may have to start over.

Step 6

Reach into the front of the bodice and pull the back through to the front at the shoulder seams.

It should look like this…

Now grab the side seams from the back piece

And the side seam from the bottom piece…

And pin them together. Sew a quarter inch seam. Don’t forget to backstitch! Repeat this step on the other side.

Step 7

Now you are going to press your bodice. It will work better if you set the iron to steam. Hold down the bodice and carefully press the iron on the seams. You may want to ask an adult for help with this step. Now your bodice should look like this;

Step 8

Cut an 11 by 26 inch rectangle out of fabric for the skirt.

Step 9

Fold it in half…

Mark the middle with a pin.

Mark the middle of the front with a pin as well.

Adjust your sewing machine to the longest straight stitch it can do.

Sew along the top edge of the skirt. Do not backstitch and do not snip the thread. Leave the thread a little longer than normal.

Now pull on the top thread and ruffle the fabric till it’s about the length of the bodice.

Step10

Flip the skirt piece onto the bodice and pin the center together.

Pin the skirt to the bodice and adjust the ruffles to make them even. Take your time with this, it will look better in the end.

Do this on both sides and sew along the edge. Don’t forget to set your machine back to a regular straight stitch. Then, set your machine to zigzag stitch and sew beside your seam. This will help keep the fabric from unraveling.

Step 11

Now we just need to finish the back.

Turn the dress inside out and line up the back edges.

Pin the edges together.

Mark 5 inches down by putting 2 pins in one spot. Start sewing at this point and down to the bottom edge of the skirt. This time we will sew a half inch seam!

Pin and sew the ruffles that are above the 5 inch mark.

Step 12

Now we’re going to cut of the ruffle points that stick out of the seam. This just makes everything look neater.

Step 13

Cut a piece of velcro 2 inches long and a quarter inch wide. Make sure you have the soft, fuzzy side and the plastic hook side.

Pin the hook side to the top of the bodice on the left. Pin the soft side to the inside of the bodice on the right.

Sew in place by going as close to the edge as you can OR zigzag stitch over the whole thing.

And we’re done!

Step 14 Put the dress on your doll!

Potato Head Quiet Book

So, we’re going on a long drive for vacation next week. And the kids will sit quietly in their seats for the entire trip. I can dream, right? Since kids aren’t naturally quiet, I’ve been putting together a bunch of things to keep them busy. Our oldest two are way past the baby quiet book stage so I made a potato head page for each of them. They will be taking a binder with on the trip so I made them 8×11 so they would fit nicely in there.

Start by cutting out an 8×11 rectangle of felt or fleece. I used fleece for the page and felt for the rest of the pieces. Except for the potato, I didn’t have enough brown felt so I used a piece of cordouroy from an old pair of pants. Put button holes along the edge so you can put it in a binder. Then draw out your basic potato shape. It’s easier to get it perfect if you fold a piece of paper in half, draw half a potato, cut it out and unfold it, and you have a perfectly uniform potato. Use this pattern piece to cut out your potato. Then cut out 2 arm pieces. Use fabric glue to put it all together like this;

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Then, using your paper potato pattern as a template, draw out the pieces you want on paper. Then cut out the paper pieces and use them as your pattern. My son loves super heroes so i just googled the characters and added the words potato head. There’s a potato head for pretty much every super hero. So, I made a superman…

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And the Hulk

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The classic Mr. Potato…

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And Brendan’s favorite; Spider-Man…

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The small pieces like pupils and earings are glued on with fabric glue as well. For Rachel I made the classic Mrs. PotatoDSCN4119

Her favourite princess, Belle

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And Ariel

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And Rapunzel

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The kids picked out the characters and helped pick out colors. But, they have not played with them yet so it’ll be more fun once we’re on our trip. I put the pages in their binders and put all the little pieces in a ziploc bag. Hopefully it’ll keep them occupied for at least 30 minutes. Hopefully…

Stone Patio

So we finally did it! And by it, I mean finish the patio. We finished it last summer actually but, we wanted to do it since we moved in and it took over a year to finish it. What?! A year! Okay so normally it should take one weekend but, I started it one day and then it just sat there for a long long time because I was pregnant and didn’t feel like doing it.
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This is what we started with. You’re probably all thinking, “what’s wrong with that?”. This picture is in the early spring; note the bare trees behind the house. In the summer we literally mowed this area because weeds just came out everywhere. Also the tree stump roots had made the bricks very uneven. And there’s never any shade on this side of the house. And it’s on the opposite end of the house from the kitchen so for bbq it was not convenient at all. You can see our bbq on the front porch. Here’s where I wanted it:
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It’s right by the kitchen door and it’s mostly shaded in the morning, mostly sunny in the afternoon but by 5pm it’s completely shaded. Perfect for bbq at supper time.
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First, we had to remove the bricks and stack them against the house where we wanted them.
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Then we dug out a few inches of dirt and put down gravel. We had to stamp it down with whatever that thing inthe picture is called.
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Then we laid down some metal pipes and, using a level, made sure that they sloped away from the house. We put a piece of wood under them as you can see in the picture.
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Then dump the packing sand down( we just reused the stuff from where the patio was before) and scrape a board along the pipes to make it perfectly smooth. You were wondering what the pipes were really for, right?
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Then, remove just the first pipe and fill in the crevice as you lay down the bricks. DO NOT WALK ON THE SAND AFTER YOU LEVELED IT! Unless you want to redo it. Start laying the bricks in one corner and walk on them. Note the pot of packing sand and a little piece of wood to make sure I filled the crevice evenly.
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When it’s all done, dump a sand called Quick-crete down and sweep it in all the cracks.
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Water it down and repeat the sand the next day because it settles. Unfortunately, the ants got to ours before it really hardened and we need to do ours again.
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We did the gravel, packing sand and bricks in 2 days. The bricks were moved from the other side of the house in 1 day thanks to my sister in laws. We dug out the few inches of soil in a few evenings when we had time. So it didn’t take that much time in total. It just sat there for a few months in between steps.
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But, now we can enjoy it for many years. And we have been. We seem to host dinner in the summer a lot more than we used to.
I hope I didn’t discourage anyone with how long it took us to get our act together and finish this project. We’re just reallygood at procrastinating

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Cloth Diapers

So I decided to jump on the cloth diapers bandwagon. Okay more like I’m sitting in my lawn chair by the curb as it parades by. I only started cloth diapering with my 3rd child, after she started solid food, only at home and only during the day. So I guess that sort of makes me a ‘poser’. At least I made them myself!
I couldn’t justify spending 12-35 dollars on a single diaper. Not if IĀ  can buy the PUL fabric for 15-25 dollars a metre(depends where you shop and whether it’s a solid color or pretty pattern). I bought 1 metre and got 8 diapers. One metre of cotton for the inside of the diaper at 6 dollars. And 1 metre of terry cloth at 4 dollars. Oh and a 10 dollar box of snaps and about 3 dollars worth of elasticĀ 
So that adds up to $48. Four diapers at $12 would be $48; the cheap ones, not necessarily the exact style you want. I made 8 diapers. Sooo….sew!

Here’s where I got the pattern for the diaper and the soaker.She has lots if styles to choose from so if you have a preference, you’re sure to find something. The one I used is the M-L fitted.
And here’s a tutorial showing the easiest way to sew them up. It’s got lots of pictures and easy to follow instructions so I decided not to make a tutorial of my own. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke! The only thing I did different was I had the PUL on the outside and the cotton on the inside. The PUL has pretty little butterflies so I wanted them visible.
Front…

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Back…

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Soaker…

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Soaker snapped in place…

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And on the cutest bum ever…

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Use a microtex needle in your sewing machine to sew these up; they make smaller holes than a regular needle. And throw them in the dryer before you use them, the heat will sort of seal the holes around the thread.
Also you’re going to need a wet bag to hold the wet diapers when you’re out. Here’s a tutorial for that.
Happy sewing!

Crinkly Letter Taggie

Another taggie toy? Yeah, but they’re cute and babies love them! And you can personalize them with the baby’s first initial. These are easy enough for a beginning sewist so why not give it a try?

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Aren’t they cute? The M is our little Madison’s and the J and K were for my nephews. All 3 of them are really close in age.
I had a pile of 5.5 inch squares that I had cut from scraps of fabric. It seemed like the perfect size for tiny hands. And the squares had straight edges so it was easier than randomly  drawing a letter on the fabric. Start by cutting out 2 letters…

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A piece of cellophane that’s a bit bigger than the letters(I just recycled some from a gift basket)…

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And a few pieces of ribbon…

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Layer them with the cellophane in the middle…

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Pin the ribbons wherever you want. I  chose just to put them on the straight edge. Just put them between the layers…

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Pin all the layers together and sew around the edge…

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Now, carefully tear away the excess cellophane. This is way easier than cutting out the letter and trying to keep it from slipping around while you pin it and sew it. It should tear right along where you sewed.
Then, set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch with the stitch length at just above zero and the width all the way up. This will create a satin stitch. Sew as close to the edge as you can…

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Trim the edges with a scissor. I added a button hole so I could attach it to those little plastic links…

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And there you go! Easy peasy!

Owl Taggie Toy

Owls are the new cool when it comes to baby stuff and I am okay with that. Actually, I’m loving it! I really wanted to redo the nursery for Madison in owls but couldn’t find the stuff I wanted at the price I wanted. So I just make owl taggies and give them to every baby I come across. Here’s how…
First, download this pattern . Print it out at 200% for this project because it’s a bit small. Sometimes the link doesn’t work for me so, download and print this one instead. The owl is a bit more round    but it will work just as well.
Then cut out all the pieces. Cut out some ribbons at 3inches in length. Singe the ends with a lighter so they don’t fray. I cut a notch in 2 pieces of ribbon for the feet.

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Pin the wings on. Sew really close to the edge. Do the same with the eye pieces.

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Sew the eyes on…

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And then choose a satin stitch on your sewing machine or, select a zigzag and set the stitch length at just above zero. Sew around the eyes and the edge of the wings.

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Do the same with the beak. And sew buttons on for pupils.

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Then, pin the ribbons on and sew around the edge…

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If you want to make a crinkly owl, pin some cellophane to the wrong side of the back piece.

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Then put the right sides together…

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And sew around the edge…

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Turn him right side out…

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Tuck in the open ends and topstitch closed. Topstitch all around the owl…

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And make a few more!

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