Monthly Archives: April 2012

04.25.12Lucky Penny Dress (JCrew kids knockoff)

Today I am bringing home the Lucky Penny tutorial. I had been wanting to make this dress FOREVER and a St. Patrick’s day themed shoot was just the kick in the bum I needed. Evie actually has this JCrew dress in a mauve color. She wore it in our family pictures last winter.

But she has already grown out of it and I refused to shell out another chunk of change when I knew I could make it:

It is made from a comfy jersey knit that was originally white but dyed a nice olive green, and a silky “special occasions” fabric.

What is so great about this dress is that NONE of the edges are hemmed!!! The edges of the jersey won’t fray and the special occasion fabric is supposed to fray a bit giving it a rough textured finish. This also makes it pretty fast and totally easy!

Would you like to make your own? I promise you can do it! You don’t even need a printed pattern! And I promise if you just so happen to have family pictures coming up, if you make this dress for your cutie and show up to your session in it, you photographer will love you!

Of course it helps when you are an adorable red head who firmly believes in fairies and leprechauns :)

What you need:

1. One of your little girls tank tops and T’s to use as a sizing guide

2. 1 3/4 yard jersey knit fabric in color of your choice

3. Half a yard “silky” fabric in a complimenting color (either a shade darker or lighter then your jersey)

4. Sewing machine, scissors, pins etc.

5. I used little squares of paper with numbers on them and tape to help me keep the ruffles in order but that is totally optional

6. Something I found amazingly helpful were pins you can sew over… I know! I didn’t know they existed either! They were given to me as a gift and I about died. You can find them at your local quilting store.

How to make your own pattern:

First we are going to make the front of the dress. Take the T or tank that you selected and grab a nice big sheet of paper (I use some of my children’s art paper on the huge roll from Ikea but you could absolutely just tape together some pieces of paper). Fold your top in half and lay it on the paper tucking in the back neck portion of the shirt so you have the steeper slope of the front visible

This center line will also be on the fold of your jersey fabric

Once you have done this repeat the process with the back of your Tank or T which will become the back of your dress. Once you are done you can cut your two “pattern pieces” out.

Now you need to make two “top pieces” These are exactly the same as your front and back main piece but only come down to about a half an inch below the arm hole. These pieces are what will give us a nice finished neckline and armholes, with out hemming :)

Cut your fabric

Once you have your pattern pieces ready you are going to cut one with your front pattern piece, on the fold, and one from your back pattern piece, on the fold. Now repeat and cut one of your front “top piece front” and one of your “top piece back”. Now all your remaining fabric will be cut into strips. Here is the thing that is fantastic about this dress, the more skiddywampus and crooked the strips are cut the cuter the dress ends up. You really can do it however you want. If you prefer to just have nice straight lines and alternate silky jersey silky jersey etc you can totally do that but I really think part of the charm is the “wild” look. (Now keep in mind anything you do to the front of the dress you will do the exact same thing to the back. It is your choice whether to do it simultaneously or one after the other.) What I decided to do was cut my jersey strips first. I cut mine to be about two inches wide though again you can do them as wide or small as you like! There are no wrong answers here friends! Then I laid them on the top of my front dress piece:

Once I was happy with how it looked I took my silky fabric and cut it so it filled in the gaps.

In the end your dress should sort of look like a mummy ha! Now, this next part is optionally but I personally think it REALLY helped and made the process go a lot faster and saved me massive frustration. I took little squares of paper and numbered each of the strips of fabric, taping the square to the strip. This way I knew exactly where they would go when I was ready to sew them down. Again this is optional but I swear it helps.

Sew Your Fabric

Once I was done numbering I took my strips off the dress and ran a gathering stitch across the top of them. This is just means you do a straight stitch where your tension is loose and the length of your stitch is loooong. This makes it easy to ruffle up the top to the size you need.

When I was done I returned them in the proper order on top of the right side of the dress front, pinning as I went

When the dress was all pinned I took it to the sewing machine and simply topstitched all the ruffles into place. Now you can do this one at a time if you prefer. I just like having it all pinned so I wasn’t getting up and down…. yeah I am that lazy ha!

If you haven’t been dong the back piece simultaneously now you will repeat this process with the back piece :) Once done we are going to connect the front to the back at the shoulders. JUST at the shoulders. This will go against the grain but pin your front to your back, wrong sides together. Then topstitch across the shoulders.

Once you are done I swear the hard part is over!!

Set aside your main dress and grab your two “top pieces”. Pin them at the shoulders so that right sides are together

Now, take your main dress and turn it inside out

You should now have a nice finished neckline. I chose not to topstitch mine. I feel like it lays better if you don’t.

Next we finish the arm holes. If you are a beginning sewer I might suggest firing up the iron for this next step and ironing over the raw edges of your armholes. If you are more advanced you can just tuck and pin :)

Ohhhh you are soooo almost done! Now all you have to do is turn the dress inside out and sew up the side seams!!! Woo hoo! You finished! I decided to take some of my extra silky fabric and made a belt to add some definition at the waist. (Just cut a long wide strip, fold in half right sides together, sew up side seam, turn right side out and topstitch ends closed)

Now go have some fun with your cutie finding fairies and leprechauns!

Because they really do exist!!!



Week According to Instagram

We have had an unbelievably busy week in the Crawford household. Lots of ups and a few downs 😉 Read to the end to find out why there has been a sudden halt in tutorials

UP: Enjoying an FHE treat at Georgetown’s Baked and Wired

The kids LOVED how huge the cupcakes were

and the fact that for the first time we didn’t make them share! Which given the gigantic size was an odd move on our part ha!

Up: Eating at dinner at Medium Rare and desert at Sugar Magnolia with fabulous friends who move to Sri Lanka in less then a week

I am going to miss this hilarious lady!

A kindred spirit who is willing to take funny pictures in front of fire houses with me

Sugar Magnolia is my new favorite desert place.

It is a TINY shop a few blocks down from Medium Rare and serves homemade cookie ice cream sandwiches that are soooo yummy!

(photo via above link)

I was so enamored with the cuteness of the shop that I didn’t listen to the shop girls when she said they were out of the chocolate wafer with salted carmel toffee ice cream so then of course that is what I tried to order ha! She just sort of looked at me like “seriously lady?” Then very politely reminded me that they were out of that one ha!

So while I thought briefly about the waffles with maple bacon (have any of you tried anything with this sweet bacon craze? I am not brave enough) I went with peanut butter Yum!

If you are in the area I HIGHLY recommend taking the trek up to get one 😉 Though this fun night came with a low point, a $50 parking ticket for parking to close to the corner… grrrr.

I have also been trying to read a few books suggested to me to prepare me for Paris:

So far it has been incredibly interesting and inspiring. I can’t wait to share a dress inspired by the reading of this book :) Think tiny lovely pleats in classic black yay!

In keeping with my search for the best cupcake in the DC metro area we hit up Crumbs

The coconut was amazing!!

Down: After coming home from Crumbs and another trip to the container store I dashed up stairs to feed Chloe and when I came back down someone had backed into our car and did not leave a note. Ughhhhhh. Thank heavens for insurance though still a huge inconvenience.

Lower Point: After seeing the car I headed back up stairs to shoot off an email to hubby to let him know. Evie followed me in and asked for some water. I asked her to wait a moment. She headed into the kitchen, I am assuming to grab a cup and go to the bathroom sink like she often does, but got distracted by the camera strap that was hanging down. With one swift tug it crashed onto the tile floor. I immediately felt sick. I ran over to find pieces of the camera and lens scattered across the floor. I of course started crying, which I actually think is the scariest thing for my kids. Thankfully it was Evie’s nap time so while she slept I calmed myself down so that by the time she woke up I could actually snuggle her and let her know it was, in the end, mommas fault for leaving her camera on the counter edge.

Up: Having Amazon Prime and a camera that will be delivered Thursday just in time for a weekend full of sessions.

Up: Suprising the hubby with tickets to see a band he enjoys  (Young The Giant) and a lovely friend to watch the kids while we attend said concert

Down: Hoping in the car, driving half way to the concert and realizing you got the time wrong and the band won’t take the stage until around ten pm making arrival at home time around 1 am and realizing as a couple you have gotten too old for that and decide instead to have a quiet dinner, a stroll around Ikea and head home to tuck the kids in bed.

That’s life though right? Its the ups and downs that keep it interesting! Fingers crossed the camera arrives soon and I will be back sharing REALY pictures :)



04.23.12spring swap!

Hi friends!  Elizabeth here.  Kelly and I are so excited to share this new project we can all participate in together!

Have you participated in an online swap before?

I signed up for a Christmas/Holiday handmade ornament swap a few years ago and it was a blast!  I liked it so much, I did it the next year too.  Maybe this year I’ll have time for another one.

Anyway, this is what gave me the idea that hosting a Spring Swap would be fun to try in the Sewing In No Man’s Land “community”.  Just a fun way to connect with new friends around the country–or around the world!

How much do you LOVE getting something fun in your mailbox?

So what are we swapping?  Get creative! A spring gift for a new friend.   We’re going to just keep this simple and simply partner up in twos and swap with each other.  So, two people, each send the other one package, making two packages total between two people.  Is this making sense?

Here are some items I thought of to get you started…

Fat quarters of pretty fabric.  This is SEWING in No Man’s Land, after all!

Or vintage notions!  Bias binding makes pretty ribbon, too.

I’m a HUGE fan of sweet little tags.  So many ways to use them!

Jewelry is always fun to receive and usually pretty easy to ship.

Other ideas?  So many possibilities…stylish office supplies, hair accessories, cabochons, wool felt in beautiful colors, stamps, all sorts of party supplies like paper straws and cute cupcake wrappers, bunting of some kind, vinyl decals (I’m OBSESSED with these), possibly a photo frame or an amazing vintage something or other…


And here’s an example of what I’d wrap up and mail to my partner:

Pretty paper goods (postcards, prints, stationery), washi tape  (ALWAYS welcome at my house!!!), vintage gingham bias binding, and handmade kraft tags.

This brings up a second point–I think it would be helpful for your partner if you include three words to describe your perfect swap gift to receive.

Let’s imagine my partner had listed ROMANTIC, SHABBY CHIC, and PINK, for example.  That’s what I was imagining when I assembled the package above.

Or what if your partner listed the words FRESH, STRIPES, and PARTY.  Something like that.  This is what I envisioned: So that we’re all on the same page with this:

Expect to spend around $10-15 on this.   Make it something awesome without going waaaaaay overboard (unless you feel like it, I guess?) or underboard (which isn’t a word, but you know what I mean!).

Almost everything I pictured here happens to be from Etsy, but you can find beautiful little treasures in many different places, including stores like Target,  TJ Maxx, craft stores, online, the mall, farmers’ markets, antiques shops.  SO many options!  And, obviously, handmade treasures are fantastic, too!

Please don’t send food.  That might get messy, ha!  : )

Package with care,  of course.

And PLEASE mail your package within a reasonable time if not on the actual ship-by date.  It would be so sad to sit around waiting and never get your gift in return!

In fact, that almost makes me not want to even host this, but, I’m going to have faith in woman-kind.  I think we can do this, ladies!  (Open to any of you male readers, too, now that I think of it!)


To join in the fun:

Email me (Elizabeth)  at beginning today and going for two weeks, until May 7.  Hopefully that gives everyone a chance to sign up.

Please use the phrase “SPRING SWAP” in the subject line of your email so I can process these quicker, if you don’t mind.  : )

Please specify if you are open to having an international partner or if you want to stay within the US (or other country of origin).

Don’t forget to INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS!  Kinda important!  : )

Also, for best results, include THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL SWAP GIFT to receive.  Give your partner a little heads-up!

I’ll begin emailing each participant their partner’s information starting May 14.  Then, take about two weeks to get it together, and hopefully you’ll be ready to go by our SHIP DATE of MAY 28!

I’ve started up a flickr group for you to post photographs of what you give and/or what you receive.  Or maybe your partner packaged your gift especially nicely and you’d like to share it with us.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do!


Just for fun– leave a comment with the three words you’d choose for yourself!  I’ll go first!

: )


04.20.12“I immediately regret my decision”

Earlier this week the power was out at our home for eight loooooooong hours. The complex did a great job of trying to ease the stress of the situation by offering free hot dogs and hamburgers, soda, pop corn, a bounce house (which I am still wondering where the power for THAT was coming from), sand toys and activities. I had some down time while the girls were napping and I thought “I am totally going to clean out my closet”. I have been wanting to do this for a long time. As I mentioned before we are waaaaaaaay over weight for our shipment to Paris. I thought it would be super smart of myself to completely weed out the clothing I never or rarely wear. I also thought “You know what? I am going to get rid of all my frumpy old clothes so then I don’t have a choice, I HAVE to look nice.” This was mainly driven by my desire not to stick out like a sore thumb while in Paris.

via apartment therapy

I also washed and ironed all my nice shirts and pants. I moved all my dresses that I could wear everyday (not just on Sunday) to the front of my dress section and straightened out my shoes. I stepped back and looked at my dramatically downsized wardrobe and thought “hmm I could totally fit all this in a suit case!” I separated the clothes into piles of “give to friends”, “give to good will” and “give to trash can”. I then delivered them accordingly. The first few days were great. I was able to get dressed way faster and I thought I looked nicer then I usually did. Then yesterday hit. The day started fine but after lots of tantrums, dirty dishes, poopy diapers, spilled milk etc. all I wanted was to get into some comfy clothes and clean my house…… um….. hadn’t thought about that. What if I finally want to make the papier mache elk head I have been dying to do. Am I going to do it in my Maxi dress or my nice jeans dripping glue and flour all over myself? What if Finn wants me to crawl into his closet house and read books? “Um, excuse me Finn? Please don’t crinkle up my skirt, I just ironed it.” It drives me nuts when I do things like this (which is often sadly enough). I have decided I need to sleep on things more often instead of reacting immediatly. I think in the end it will save me a lot of frustration.




Felt Bon Bons

The other night Chris and I were lucky enough to attend a dinner with Alum from his college. (We went HERE and it was yummy!) We arrived 20 minutes early (something that never happens) so we got to wander through one of my fav places to wander, the Container Store. Chris had never been. I pitched it by saying “They have containers for things you never knew you needed a container for!” Um, to a guy who does not appreciate useless spending this was not a positive ha! While there I picked up this super cute “basket”

It is more grey then black stripe and meets my current requirements for any purchase: light and easy to pack. Darn that shipment to Paris weight limit.

Chris picked out this:

A hot dog packet container. Such a guy thing right?

Then I saw these:

$36.00!!! Seriously? I couldn’t even wait a day to make them!

I think these are soooo cute and can’t wait for an excuse to make tons of colorful ones!

What you need:

Craft Felt in color of choice



Sharp bow scissors

tiny elastics (optional)


Treats or treasures!

Hope you have a fun party coming up that you can whip these cuties up!