After the two Wiksten Hack Tanks I made (see here and here), I decided I should at least make one that was more as the pattern intended.  I also wanted to try to fix the fit issues while the changes I made were still fresh in my mind.  I took extra precious time to pick up a few new techniques that I know will serve me well in future sewing projects.  (Please excuse the “whoa!” angle…having my sister hurriedly taking pics while the kids are shouting behind her is not always the best timing.)

I got this fabric at Hancock off the clearance tables.  I wish you could feel how soft it is!  The weight and drape of the fabric (to me, anyway) is just a step below quilting cotton, but I love the print, which is really rare for the major chain stores around here.

The few things I changed for my goofy shaped self:

-I shifted the pattern half an inch for the back neckline the same way I did the first Wiksten Hack Tank.

-I shaved a quarter inch off the front and bottom armscye (but still need to remove a bit more from that front part).

-I straightened the shoulder seam line so it didn’t slope quite so steeply.

-I did a baby hem instead of the pattern’s recommended typical, folded up hem–just because I like it better, and it seemed easier for such a curvy hem.  I suck at doing a regular hem on a curvy line.  (This recent rolled hem tutorial by Megan Nielsen came in handy.)

I mentioned on the first version that the neckline wasn’t laying flat and the bias binding finish was sticking out.  Instead of winging it like I usually do and trying to figure it out myself (which is fun sometimes, but there’s a point where it becomes an “Ashley, you are officially wasting fabric!” kind of thing), I looked to the internet and my book resources to find some clues and answers to how to fix my issues.  And, whaddya know?!  I found answers!  Shocker, right…

I used this tutorial for how to do the bias finish, and I even double checked the Wiksten pattern directions–there is nothing in the pattern directions about clipping, understitching, or grading the seam allowance of the binding before doing the final press and stitch.  Check out the tutorial before you do a bias finish neckline, because her technique is spot-on.  It was worth the extra time. (It’s still a great pattern, though!!)

I do see that the neckline still sticks out a little, but I think I now know why (thanks to my handy dandy collection of book resources mentioned above!).

This book offers oodles of finishing techniques for gobs of fabrics and necklines and seams and insides, etc.  The one that struck me was for bias finishes.  Have you ever heard to stretch-press bias tape before stitching it on?? If you haven’t, don’t feel too dumb, because I’ve looked at and read tons of information that has yet to be used by my brain, and I have never seen this before!

As I was cutting my bias strips for the arm holes and neckline, I even found myself wondering if I was supposed to stretch it all while measuring.  The tutorial I used by Grainline Studio doesn’t mention stretching; just that the length of the bias strip should be an eighth of an inch shorter than the seam line around the neck–plus seam allowance to stitch the bias into a continuous circle before attaching.  The seam allowance isn’t included in her measurement recommendation in the actual post; I found that in the comments.  To save you from confusion like me, you have to add that in!  I followed this guidance without stretching (just in case she factored in weird stuff like that), but when I was stitching the strip to my tank, the bias was longer than my neckline.  If I had stretch-pressed it before cutting, I know this wouldn’t have happened, and chances are that the tiny bit of shrinking back into shape would’ve pulled the neckline into place.  I’m still a little iffy on whether she means to stretch-press before cutting it to measurement (in the book), but I’m going to try it next time.  Needless to say, I learned so very much with this simple top!

I think this will be my last entry into Rae’s Spring Top Sew Along, since it ends on Monday.

Next week, I plan to tackle some yellow shorts for Little Man (by his request!) and some high-waisted shorts for myself.  I also have plans for a new Crescent Skirt, since Skirt Week is approaching!  I’m not sure which will get made first, but expect a little more variety coming up soon!

As always, thanks for looking! 🙂


Since a basic tee is rather boring, I’ll be brief.  I made this.  The end.

Okay, not really.  I have no idea what this knit fabric is called, but I got it at The French Seam a year ago when they were having an awesome anniversary sale.  Since we had to drive rather far to get there, I spent loads and bought gobs of indie patterns as well (my Crescent Skirt pattern and orange linen it’s made of–seen here–are from there, too).  I spent more on this knit than I really wanted, but I loved it so, and I still have enough left over to make another tee–yay!  Here is the print…if you know what it’s called for reference, feel free to let me know.  I don’t normally buy “designer” fabric, but I think it was from France??

I used my “Don’t Be Lazy!” Shirt pattern (forever more will be known as the DBL shirt, fyi).  I cut the sleeve to be a cap sleeve, and I’m quite happy with it.  After sewing it all up, it seemed rather boxy with no waist definition, so I took the waist seam line in a bit.  The weight of this fabric is a little heavier than the DBL shirt, so the neckline doesn’t lay quite as flat.  I’m hoping after a wash that it will straighten out a little more.

I think that’s all that can be said!  I love it, and I had to remind myself all day at the Children’s Museum that I actually made the shirt that was so very comfortable.  So, I’m calling it a win!

Thanks for looking!  🙂

Oh yeah, and added this one, too.

Warning: This will be an information-only post without pics.  But if you are actually utilizing the info in these My Time posts (it’s crickets over here, so I have no idea if anyone is, but I would’ve been eating this up if I had seen it in my early days of sewing with Little Man underfoot…and also been too timid to comment to say how it was going if I was doing any of it!), these are my major guidelines for myself when sewing while LM is awake.  (Wow, can you say “run-on sentence”?)  I’ll keep this as brief and simple as possible, and if you need elaboration, let me know in the comments or email thegreencateye(at)gmail(dot)com.  I really would love to hear from you if you are feeling shy!  I want to fully be a sewing (or otherwise) newbie-friendly site!  🙂  Here are my guidelines for myself:

Pay attention!

This seems common sense, but pay attention to what he’s pretending in the next room.  Pay attention when he’s talking to you, and be sure to respond.  If you are deep in the thralls of a complicated part of a project, let him know.  At least over here, my three-year-old is great with the occasional “I really need to focus on this part, but I’ll be able to pay attention in just a minute, okay?”  I don’t want to be missing anything hilariously amazing going on in the next room or even right next to me by being too consumed with myself and my projects.  Part of the joy of being a stay-at-home mom is that I get to witness all the fun he’s having throughout the day, and I’m not about to give that up!

Have snacks ready!

There’s nothing more frustrating than finally sitting down to my project or being right in the middle of a complex part just to hear, “I want a snack!”  Having quick things ready to go is key–cut the fruit or veggies before starting your stuff and have any dips or drinks ready to hand out.  You’ll be glad later.  Plus, a fed kid is a happy kid! 😀

Play before getting started!

This one is a very big deal over here.  Like most moms, I often feel guilty for focusing on my own things while LM is in my care.  But he’s always in my care, so I have to have me-time sometime, right?  What I’ve found is that it does wonders for him and me by simply giving him just 30 minutes of my time–focused and uninterrupted by phones or televisions or computers–doing whatever he wants right before I do my thing.  I try to do this a couple times each day, but right before I sew has worked well.

Know when to stop!

This is critical.  Of all these tips, this one is the most important for me.  Set a timer or watch the clock, decide how long you will be working on your project, and stick to it.  Start small and build on it as you feel you can.  Every kid is different, so gauge your time frame accordingly.  If things are going well, and you have a small section that you could “quickly” finish, I recommend still stopping if you have spent your allotted time.  I’ve tried to keep going many times, and it seems it’s always right in the middle of that “one last thing” section that LM grows impatient.  I can only expect him to last so long, and since we do this regularly, he knows there is a definitive end time and that I won’t be sewing forever.  But even more so, sometimes I don’t make it to my planned stopping point.  Some days things aren’t going well, LM may just be having a cranky day, or I’m feeling too distracted to do a decent job on my project.  These are the most important times to just put it away and come back to it later–know when to stop!

Anything you would add?

If you sew or work on side projects with little ones around, what are your ground rules for yourself?  What works best at your house?  I’d love to hear!  I’m always up for improving our time around here! 🙂

I’ll be back with another play tip next Monday (with pics!).  If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! 🙂


Holy cow!  Week Three over already!  Granted, Week One was all of three days, but still–it’s flying!  I didn’t do much spunk this week, though I had aspirations of it.  It’s been rainy and suddenly very, very hot the past week.  And as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been dealing with feuding cats…the bites are starting to heal pretty well, for those who care.  All that’s left are the marks and some bruising around them on one arm (yeah–bruising from a cat bite?!  What the heck?!).  I’m finally done with the Band-Aids, but the cats’ struggling to get along is exhausting at night.  Too little rest kills my spunk.  But enough rambling–on to the MMM round up!

Day 14: Scout Tee Muslin

I made a muslin of Grainline Studio’s Scout Woven Tee.  I decided to go for it “straight out of the envelope” and make no adjustments.  Ouch, such a mistake.  I’ll detail this one more when I make and blog about the real one.  The fabric is like lining fabric on the inside, but feels like rayon challis on the outside.  The print is better in person and not so pink (I really don’t know how a gray bathroom with no pink in it at all can wash everything in a picture with a pink tone!).  I wore this shirt out with my sister that afternoon, and my face made it look like I loved my shirt, but on the inside, I felt something like this:

http://collider.csource: the-incredible-hulk/page/2/


That’s the Incredible Hulk for those who don’t know–when he gets angry, he grows and his muscles get all huge, and his shirt turns to shreds in the process (but I’ve never actually seen this movie…).  Like the Hulk, I felt like flexing my back was going to pop the seams open (and offer much relief!)!  The back is just too slim between my shoulders, and my low armpits were causing ridiculous pulling and pinching.  It was bad enough that I was considering buying a shirt to change into!  So, needless to say, this one will be donated after I get the fit adjusted.  But more on that top later…

Day 17: The “Don’t Be Lazy!” Shirt

I’m still loving this shirt (even if everyone else is tired of seeing it).  I especially loved it paired with these RTW shorts and sandals.  It was the epitome of comfy!

Day 17: Wiksen Hack Tank

Yes, that’s right!  The Wiksten Hack Tank again!  But the good news is that after washing, the collar doesn’t stick out quite as much.  Those are RTW jeans as well–lest you think I have gone into the making-my-own-jeans territory.  No, not yet.  But soon!

I didn’t participate in Theme Friday this week (though I had intentions of drawing a giant sombrero on our wall with sidewalk chalk, but it was too rainy), and I felt a little bummed.  But I was too exhausted from breaking up the nighttime kitty fights the past few nights to care enough to make a Theme Friday pic happen.  😦  Oh well, there will be next week!

And yes, I only did three me-made outfits this week (except pajamas), but that’s what my challenge was for myself.  I’m glad I stuck with my gut for what would be a doable challenge for me.  With the weather change, it’s been frustrating some days, but it’s also helped me see what kinds of staples I need in my wardrobe for days when nothing feels like it fits right.

Thanks for looking!  How is your MMM ’13 adventure going?

After my first Wiksten Hack Tank, I wanted to alter the pattern while it was still fresh in my mind.  I love the first one despite its flaws–it’s very comfortable and cool.  A quick note on that first one, though the neckline still sticks up/out, since it’s been through the washer, it has flattened out some.  Yay!

Onto this new one!   I used some old stash fabric for this one.  The solid green is some olive green rayon knit, and the top part is some polka dot quilting cotton that I should’ve thought more about first.  I made the woven part with a full second layer to work as a facing (kind of like my Casual Lady Top, but this “facing” goes only as far as the outer bodice piece).

The process worked great for the point in the front, but it ended up too heavy and thick overall.  Hopefully after washing it, it will soften up.  But it was stash fabric, so I’m not too bummed.

When I was making a Kraft paper pattern for my alterations, I stupidly shifted the back pattern piece a goofy and wrong way for the top shoulder part.  I ended up with a pattern piece with the excess taken out at the arm hole instead of at the neckline.  This caused a “wings” kind of look on the back.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I did it, but it was such an idiot move!  It looks better in the pics than it does in person.  Those aren’t my shoulder blades poking that you’re seeing–it just drapes that way.

I’ve tried putting this on to wear out 3 different times since I made it, and I end up too uncomfortable and change before getting out the door. 😦  But, again, I’m hoping a trip through the washer changes that.

And don’t you just love the Band-Aids on my arms?  We have three cats that never really fight.  But a couple nights ago, two of them began going at it–even running across the kitchen table hissing, scratching, chasing…and peeing!  Thank heavens for PDF pattern that I can reprint, because my Wiksten Tank and Scout Tee patterns fell victim to the scared kitty’s bladder.  SO GROSS!  Then in pulling the chaser away from the chasee, the cat who never hurts or bites–yeah, the bugger bit me!  For all my cat knowledge (hi, note the name of my blog), I didn’t know that cat bites are really dangerous and have an 85% infection rate (even indoor, rabies-free cats)!  WHAT?!  Luckily, my sister clued me in, I went to the doctor, and am on “precautionary” antibiotics (which I hate doing!).  But it turns out that’s a pretty good thing, because two of the four punctures in my arms are looking a bit nasty, even with the antibiotic ointment I applied right afterward.  So, learn from me–if you ever get bit by a cat, go to the doctor!  Yikes. So now I have Band-Aid arms for the third day in a row. :/

So that’s my latest Wiksten Hack and a crazy cat story.  Thanks for looking! 🙂

And again, putting this one in the pool!

Today I’m going to tell you how I managed to sew for two and a half hours on Mother’s Day with no complaint from 3-year-old Little Man (more than I usually allow myself)!  You can find last week’s tip here.  They seem common sense, but it’s taken me a while to find the balance of how to sew with LM nearby, and I wish I had seen tips like these in the beginning!  🙂  Next Monday, I’m going to share some of my “ground rules” for when I sew with LM underfoot.  They really are critical, but I’m realizing they truly require their own post.  (And a quick apology for darker photos on these posts so far–my sewing space is currently my dark kitchen, but I’ll hopefully be moving to a completed sewing room next week!)  ((((And I use way too many parentheses in this post!))))

Aside from the scraps sharing you’ll see below, I also give him empty spools from thread, the card that bias binding is wrapped around, and any other little leftovers that would be destined for the crafting or recycling bins.  I also allow him to push the foot pedal to wind the bobbin.  These make him a part of what I’m doing and helps him be more patient with me while I’m at the machine.

Yesterday, it was scraps, scraps, scraps!  They’re one of LM’s favorite parts of when I sew.  I make sure to remind him every time I’m cutting to not touch any of my supplies or fabric unless I hand it to him–with a stare-him-in-the-eye reminder of why not to touch the scissors or rotary cutter!  Don’t take those tools out of your sight for a moment!  He then sits patiently next to my cutting mat on the floor waiting for hand-outs.  He pretends to cut them, and yesterday was wadding up the larger ones as small as he could saying, “I cut them, so now they are small enough!”  That’s them below with his firefighter jacket:

I let him have anything that is not usable as a large cut of fabric, because I go and collect all those scraps after I’m done sewing (including many that I will still save–I can iron out the mess).  He does all kinds of things with these scraps.  One week, we got stuck behind a trash truck earlier in the day.  He pretended the scraps were trash and took them to his play area and put them all in his wooden castle one-by-one as I dished them out, saying he had to take them to the dump (i.e. the castle).  I’ve taught him to pull the long ones behind him for the cats to chase around.  He’s wrapped his toys in them as clothes.  Yesterday’s gem: they were worms!

I’m not sure why they needed to be on pillows, but he pulled those from the play area.  I let him do anything acceptable while I sew, and that often means toys and books strewn throughout my sewing space, and a HUGE mess to clean up afterward, but I’m able to sew, so I’ll take it!  Note the borrowed Backyardigans he brought in next to my cut pieces… But I love having him near and seeing how he chooses to entertain himself–it’s a great laugh to hear some of the things he comes up with!

Don’t ignore them while you’re in your own little world.  If they pretend you’re Baby Bear, be Baby Bear!  If they offer you weird trinkets and oddball items, receive them graciously, and set them near the machine out of your way but still nearby (perhaps a small dish or bowl to contain any rolling bits)!  LM is infinitely more patient with me during this time if he knows I’m still available to interact with him.

I really hope this is a useful tip for you!  How do you entertain you little ones while you sew or do your own thing?  Do you offer scraps or bits from your projects or do you find the distraction too much to handle?  I would also LOVE to know how it works out if you utilize these tips!

Thanks for looking! 🙂




I made it through Week Two!  This pic wasn’t used for anything, but my husband said my facial expression best captures my personality.  So I thought I’d share it with you, since it makes me laugh.  You’re welcome!  😀  I love doing jump shots–they’re fun to do and fun to see the outcome.

thegreencateye MMM '13

Anyhow, moving on.  Last week, I was proud of myself for wearing me-mades every day including pajamas on days we didn’t go anywhere (even though my commitment was only for 3 days a week).  This week, I skipped two days during the week, but still kept my commitment.  It has been uplifting to put a little more effort into myself, since I’m getting my pic taken every day.  Hilariously, I’ve forgotten what my hair looks like down!  Here’s my week in pictures:

Day 6 Monday–The “Don’t Be Lazy!” Shirt (that I should probably re-name ‘cuz I’m tired of typing out that uber-long title!)

MMM '13 D6 wm

I really am so glad I made this shirt.  It is one of the most comfortable shirts ever (me-made or not!).  I’m stoked to have a sloper/block for future makes, and I plan to start using it again soon!

Day 7 Tuesday–(old) Banskia Top

This is my sleeveless Banksia Top I made last year.  It’s made from super-soft quilting cotton with light coral vintage buttons that my sister-in-law gave me (that her grandmother gave to her, but my sis-in-law doesn’t sew or have any use for them–she actually gave me a whole freezer Ziploc bag of buttons!).  I finished the arm holes, neckline, hem, and side seams with light pink bias tape.  And the placket doesn’t actually pucker because of bad sewing…I neglected to straighten it out before my sister took the picture.  The jeans and cardigan are hand-me-downs from my sister.  My husband thinks this top looks a bit “old lady”, but it’s comfy and I like it!

Day 8 Wednesday–Wiksten Hack Tank

I wore my new Wiksten Hack Tank to the local outlet mall with my sister.  I rarely go to a mall now, so it was truly fun seeing all the fashions I can easily construct on my own.  I don’t miss shopping at a mall!

Day 11 Saturday–Peacock Renfrew and Theme Friday!

Theme Friday in the MMM ’13 Flickr group was “Creative Space” and can be interpreted however you like.  Instead of showing you my messy kitchen, I chose this:

Here are the full pics for more detail (and I really did wear the jeans and Renfew that day):

And here’s a detail shot of the peacock print on the Renfrew–I tried to mess with editing the coloration and such in a way that would make more contrast to actually capture those peacocks in a pic.  Still not great, but at least you might know what I’m talking about when I say there are peacocks on my shirt when it looks like it’s just white.

Peacocks 1 wm

So that’s week two!  I’m amazed at how quickly this month is flying.  And happy Mother’s Day to those fellow mamas out there!  Little Man was nice enough to let me sew for a really long time today without complaining once that he wanted me to play instead (I’m not scum–I played with him for a while before sewing)!  Tomorrow, you’ll get to see some of how he entertained himself during that time.  😉

Thanks for looking! 🙂