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Brooke from Oliver's Fancy on KCW

why I sew: Brooke

“Why would I make that when I can go to Target and buy it for $10?”                                  “That’s nice for you, but I don’t have time to sew.”
“How do you find time to make all those things?”                                                             “That’s a lot of work. Not really worth it in my opinion.”

Have you heard any of these? I get these questions from people quite regularly as a matter of fact. I have a few sewing friends in town, but not many. Many of my friends and acquaintances appreciate the sewing I do, but from afar. They just don’t quite “get” me. Ya know what I mean? That’s what I love about this online community. There are so many like-minded people who totally understand my fabric hoarding tendencies, crazy urge to sew last-minute gifts and messy house because I’ve spent all week sewing kid’s clothes. (Note: because I find blog posts without pictures to be very boring I’ve uploaded some pics of various sewing projects I have done over the last few years. If you are curious about any of them just click on the picture to be taken to the blog post.)
But really all that doesn’t answer the basic question of why I sew in the first place. It all started almost 6 years ago with a desire to learn how to quilt. Contrary to many others, I did not grow up sewing with my mom. While my mother does know how to sew and did sew me a few garments when I was very young, it’s not her passion and she never truly enjoyed it. Once she had 5 of us kids to take care of, she put the sewing machine aside except for small mending projects.

Vintage May Redo (4 of 10)
Growing up, I was the bookworm who would much rather have her head in a book than anything resembling home-ec. I took a basic sewing class in high school, sewed a hideous, ill-fitting skirt, tried out a few other big box garment patterns (without success), and then lost interest in sewing. That mentality carried me through college until marriage. But something happened after I got married. I had always harbored an inner desire to learn how to quilt, so that summer after I got married, I took a quilt class at my local quilt shop…and the rest, as they say, is history.
The quilt class not only taught me how to construct a quilt, but it also gave me a refresher on sewing basics and techniques. I became fascinated with the craft. I can’t really explain my fascination except maybe to say that I’m the kind of person who always needs to be learning and growing and now that I was done with college and book-learning, I had found another outlet to fulfill my inner need for learning.

April (1 of 5)

The first year, it was mostly quilting and small household projects: pillows, placemats and such. Then I got pregnant with our first son and started experimenting with children’s clothes (mentioned on my previous post.) It seems like it’s a never-ending ascent to learn more and more about the craft of sewing. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. At the beginning, it was just something fun that I’d always wanted to learn. Now it’s much more than that. It comes from a deep-seated need to create that I never knew I had. The feeling of taking some flat pieces of fabric and creating something 3-dimensional that’s both useful and beautiful with them…well, it’s become a high for me. Now I sew because I have to. I have always admired artists, but never felt that I had the creative gene. I have now found my creative gene- it’s taking fabric and creating things with it. I mean, the possibilities are endless!


In addition, sewing is also part of a challenge in our family’s goal to live a slower, more intentional life and be better stewards of our Earth. Sure, I could go to Target and buy the same top, or pair of shorts, or whatever else you want for cheaper and much less work on my part (and on occasion, I do). But when I create it with my own two hands, it not only gives me a feeling of being self-sustaining, it also aids in the goal of less sweatshop clothing, more ethically-sourced, etc, etc.

Art Gallery Sugar Pop Top (1 of 4)

So that’s probably more information than you ever wanted to know about my sewing journey, but I’m all about the information overload. I feel a bit vulnerable sharing something this personal with all of you, but I hope you enjoyed reading a bit of my story and maybe you could emphathize with one or more parts of it? What about you? Do tell me! Has sewing always been a part of your life or is it something you more recently picked up? Do you have that same inner need for creativity that I experience?

Brooke from Oliver's Fancy on KCW

the first garment I ever made for my kids: Brooke

When Meg asked us if we wanted to write about this topic, I thought it sounded like fun but wasn’t quite sure that I would be able to find documentation of my first outfit…A quick facebook search later and voila- a picture labeled as “Oliver’s first mama-mades.” Whew! Thank goodness for Facebook over-sharing, right? 🙂  Also guess I should be glad that my eldest is only 3 so I didn’t have hoards of pictures to sort through.

My first sewing for Oliver was two pairs of Anna Maria Horner quick-change trousers. I made them when he was three months old, and I had finally recovered from the adjustment of having a baby to have energy to sew again.  Those of you who know me know that I have a love of Dr. Seuss so of course I had to buy some Dr. Seuss fabric when I found out I was pregnant. I also bought two sewing for baby books- Handmade Beginnings and Simple Sewing for Baby. I wanted to sew some things for him before he was born, but I taught high school English up until the week before he was born and just didn’t have time or energy to do any sewing! These pants (shorts) started my love affair for sewing kid’s clothing. It was so fun to see my little baby in something I had made just for him!226086_10150746744440137_7726795_n

I have a few pictures to share with you of Oliver in his pants, but please forgive the poor photo quality! These pictures were taken with my phone way before I knew anything about photography! I am not a great photographer right now by any means but it’s encouraging to see how far I’ve come! I really wanted to try to edit these pictures up for you a bit but resisted the urge so you could see them in all their original glory (If that’s even an accurate word to use to describe them-lol).



I highly recommend this pattern as a great beginner garment. There are quite a few pattern pieces and instructions, but she walks you through the construction step by step and because the pants are reversible, you don’t have to worry about finishing any seams or anything like that.



Now you probably want to know how these pants held up for future children, right? Well so far there’s only one sibling to follow Oliver and he was able to wear these pants just fine! The crotch area was a bit snug because he is a chunkier kid than Oliver was and has a big cloth diaper bum. I actually made two new pairs for Eliot during last spring’s KCW and he wore those a lot his first few months. I tried to see if I had any pics of E in the original pants but sadly I couldn’t find any…so bummed.


What about you? Do you remember the first garment you made for your child? Are you preserving it out of sentimentality or passing it on to other siblings? I’d love to see everyone else’s pictures of their first kid’s garment! That is, if they’re as terrible as mine is. Please make me feel better about the horrible photographer I used to be! Feel free to leave a link in the comments if you blogged about yours so I can go check it out.

Brooke from Oliver's Fancy on KCW

KCW plans: Brooke

Hi it’s me, Brooke, here to chat with you again. This time I’m going to talk with you about my personal plans for Spring 2014 KCW. Unlike our other two contributors this week, I don’t have any girls to sew for so my sewing will be solely focused on sewing for my boys. However, many of the things on my list could easily translate to either gender.

I will mostly be sewing for my older son, Oliver, because his younger brother has an over-abundance of summer clothes and really is in need of nothing. In reviewing O’s spring/summer wardrobe, I realized that he is severly lacking in 3T summer clothes. My goal for this week is to supplement some of his summer wardrobe. I’m going to stick with the basics for him because at almost-three, he spends a lot of time playing outside and making messes. I really want to make him a variety of t-shirts and shorts that can be assembled fairly quickly and easily, but yet will be durable.

Plans Brooke

I have three patterns in line for the tshirts: Rae’s Flashback tee (image 1), the Raglan tee from Sewing for Boys (Image 2 via my blog) and Blank Slate Patterns Vintage V Neck (image 3). Husband specifically requested some raglan tees and since we aim to please, I am including them in my list. 😉 Also I am mostly going to be upcycling these shirts from husband’s old tees. This fits perfectly into our mini-me theme. (Mini-me can mean husband, not me, right?) I also want to try freezer paper stenciling. I have actually never done that- can you believe it? I think I’m the last person in the blogging world to attempt this and can’t wait to try it out.

PicMonkey Collage-shorts For the shorts, I am debating on buying Dana’s shorts pattern (left image), using Rae’s Parsley Pants (bottom image) and modifying them into shorts (tutorial here), or making some dressier shorts from the Oliver + S Sketchbook Shorts pattern (right image). If you have experience with any of these patterns, please feel free to put your two cents in to help me decide! To continue with the upcycling/mini-me theme, I will be using some old pants of mine and my husband’s for fabric. I found some RIT dye on clearance at the grocery store this past week and picked it up to try my hand at dying some of the old pants to make them a little more fun.

PicMonkey Collagepjs2

Last but not least, I want to make a few pairs of pajamas for both boys and will be using the Flashback Tee (left image) and Fancy Pants Leggings (right image) from Titchy Threads. Not sure yet what I’ll use for fabric, but I’d like to pull from the nautical colors I mentioned earlier. And I’d really like to coordinate the boys just for fun. (yep, gotta enjoy a little matchy-matchy while I can!)

I think these goals are a good place for me to start out my KCW prep. Who knows how much time I’ll actually have that week to finish all this, but I am going to try to have all my patterns and fabric prepped in advance so that I can get as much done as possible. My plans aren’t anything super fancy or ornate, but they’re practical. And that’s important right? I’m hoping that the freezer stenciling and fabric dying will add the fun touches needed to my simple clothes to give them that extra zaz. How are your plans coming along? Anyone sewing Easter outfits or are you going the practical route like me?