Tag Archive | corduroy

Comfort on the road

A couple of weeks ago we returned from our 3000 mile journey down to Colorado and back to see my family. Growing up, my family often made the reverse trek from Colorado to see my dad’s family in Oregon. Even with generous 80 mph speed limits in Idaho and Wyoming (because really, who wants to linger there?) (don’t get offended Idahoans; I lived in Southern Idaho for four years — you and I both know there’s nothing to see) (I’d soothe the egos of Wyomingites, too, except, well, I’m pretty sure there are more cattle than people) (Utah, you get a pass because, even though your scenery isn’t fantastic in that particular corner, it’s better than hundreds of miles of flat scrubland) — what was I saying? Oh yeah, even at 80 mph, 3000 miles round trip is a lot of ground to cover in a car with a seatbelt digging into your shoulder. We needed seatbealt pads and STAT!

This sounds like a job for…


Not that a few seatbelt pads were going to eliminate much of my fabric scraps, but I’m all about cheap as free and saw no need to buy new stuff when I could just as easily make it at home with the stuff I already have. Except for the Velcro. I ran out of Velcro.

I wanted a fabric that was soft yet sturdy (it’s going to be sliding up and down on a seatbelt and needs to not wear through), which is how I landed upon the sizable scrap of corduroy which you may recognize from this dress. It’s all well and good until the day when I wear that dress in the car and get stuck to the seatbelt like some kind of Sunday school flannelgraph. We’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.

Next order of business was to measure the width of our seatbelts. I used my soft measuring tape to measure across the front, around the back, and then allowed one inch overlap onto the front for attaching the pad to itself around the belt and came up with a measurement of 5.5″. I think most seatbelts are pretty standardized nowadays so you could use that, too, if you want to follow along and make your own.

So the finished cover is going to measure 5.5″ wide, but we need to account for seam allowances (of which I used a skimpy 1/4″, but you can add more if you want, just adjust all the measurements all the way around), giving me a width of 6″. Length of the pads is a little bit subjective, but I went with 7.75″ which seemed to cover the area that the seatbelt would come into contact with.  Got all that? I’m gonna apologize up front for the pitiful lack of in-progress photos. I swear I took more, but I don’t know where they are. Apparently figments of my imagination. However, it’s a pretty simple project and I have faith in your ability to follow step-by-step instructions.

Materials: thick fabric; quilt batting; Velcro
Finished cover: 5.5″ x 7.25″
Cut two rectangles of fabric and one of batting: 6″ x 7.75″
Cut two Velcro strips: 2″ (mine were 1.5″ only because I was trying to eke out as much from my Velcro remnant as I could)

1. Sew the batting onto the wrong side of one of the fabric rectangles.


2. On the right side, sew the two soft Velcro strips 1/2″ away from the top and bottom edges and 3/8″ from the left edge.

seat belt cover diagram

3. On the other fabric rectangle, also on the right side, sew the two scratchy Velcro strips 1/2″ from the top and bottom edges (be sure to line them up with their counterparts on the other piece of fabric) and 1/2″ from the left edge.

4. Place the two fabric rectangles right sides together (the soft and scratchy Velcro will be on opposite sides, NOT hooked together) and sew around three sides. Trim corners. Turn.

5. Press the seat belt pad and fold in the seam allowance on the unfinished edge. Sew closed.

6. Wrap around the seatbelts in your car and travel in style and comfort!


Yay, Wyoming.

Yay, Wyoming.

Black and white

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ve seen an assortment of dresses that I’ve made for myself. One thing those dresses all have in common: they are all lightweight. I’ve shivered through the last few winters going to church in thin cotton dresses, but there’s only so much layering you can do before you just give up and wear jeans. I needed a winter dress. I knew this several years ago and bought a couple of yards of black & white houndstooth corduroy. The pattern it was intended for was a vintage 60s sort of military-inspired dress. I don’t know what I was thinking. That style uses a lot of folds and tucks, which 1) would not have worked with corduroy and 2) would have induced eye-crossing optical illusions with the houndstooth print. Sometimes I don’t plan things out very well.

Houndstooth and corduroy!

This past spring, I decided that I needed to work through a lot of the fabric in my stash that didn’t really have patterns to go with them. I bought a bunch of patterns on sale and one of them was McCalls 2401. It’s a simple sheath dress: a front, two back pieces, two sleeves and the facing. The construction is very simple. The fit is gained through four darts in the front and two in the back.


I had to let out the hips a tiny bit and take in the two vertical darts near the top to really get a nice, close fit.

Pretending that I’m not freezing to death.

I didn’t notice during all my multiple fittings that the back neckline was not lying flat. I think next time, I will pinch in small darts on either side of the zipper to take out some of the excess. I can’t do it on this one because the facing is already in and it would require a lot of deconstruction to do that. I’ll just tough it out and count on my hair to cover the gaping.

Pretty proud of my invisible zipper, though.

I wore the dress all day Sunday — to church and an afternoon of Christmas shopping. It was warm and comfortable!

I don’t have anything all that interesting to say about it. I will be using this pattern again with some navy blue wool.

Mr. Gren told me to act natural. Now I want to make a sailor dress.

Talar du svenska?

My horizons were widened last year when I received a Hanna Andersson catalog in the mail. I had never even heard of them and I don’t know how they got my name, but somehow I ended up on their mailing list for at least one season. And I’m so glad I did. Normally I would flip through something like this and then toss it, but this catalog really caught my eye. The clothes were so different from what you normally see in stores. Classic, cute, and still modern children’s clothes are becoming harder to find if you don’t rake in the big bucks. It didn’t take me long to notice that I cannot afford to outfit my children in an entire Hanna Andersson wardrobe, as much as I would like to. But! Fortunately I have this super power known as sewing. <insert heroic music here>

There were several little outfits that I adored, but I especially liked these dresses.

They're just so... Swedish!

Ikea is fine and all but I never really gravitated towards that Scandinavian aesthetic until Hanna entered my life. The color contrasts, the little motifs — ahhh, happy sigh.

You may remember that Granota informed me recently of the lack of warm dresses in her closet. When I was searching for the dress I had begun for her last fall, I found a yard and a half of royal blue pinwale corduroy. I had originally bought it to make her a Madeline costume for Halloween last year, but she never liked that idea and insisted on reprising her role as a Milka bar from the previous year.

I really like the applique on the original Hanna dress, but I didn’t want to do a straight knockoff. I cut out a heart from some white fleece and embroidered a vaguely Scandinavian design.

My embroidery still leaves something to be desired, but it’s ok. I think the stray fuzzies on the fleece will disappear in the wash.

To make the dress itself, I had to resort to some creative Franken-patterning. Yes, it’s a pretty simple dress as far as the cut goes, but I did want to make sure that all pieces turned out as mirror images of each other and in the correct size. So I combined these two patterns to get the effect that I wanted.

4107 + 5118 = Hanna

I didn’t have time to add the white band around the bottom because Granota was desperate to wear the dress to church the next day. I think I will put it on whenever I can sneak the dress out of her room. Here is the final product.

Granota was less than cooperative when I tried to get an action shot of the dress, so just imagine a (normally) sweet 4 year old with lacy bobby socks and Mary Janes skipping around in a blue tunic dress. Framgång! And I’ve been inspired to try and recreate some of the other pretty little dresses from the catalog. I might not be able to afford the real thing, but I can make a fairly decent approximation. Does that make me the Swedish Chef of the clothing world?


Bins of possibility

Yesterday, Granota wandered into my sewing room and informed me that she has no autumn dresses and she would like me to make her some. Unfortunately, she’s right. In the course of our conversation, though, I remembered that I had bought some fabric for that very purpose last year and then abandoned that project. I told her I would look for the fabric and the beginnings of the dress I had made for her last year. I looked through a plastic bin, two large bags, a laundry basket, and two boxes full of fabric. I have a little. I got ambitious and decided to measure all of it and pin a little tag to each cut of fabric and then made a list of what I had because I realized that there was fabric I had completely forgotten about. I found lots of pretty stuff!

Polka-dotted cottons

Batik and a thicker woven cotton

Floral pique and houndstooth corduroy

Stars and stripes

Lightweight cottons & denim

Wool & denim

Flannel and corduroy

Aqua wool-silk blend. Mmmm.

And more cottons and corduroy!


To most people, it may look like piles of fabric. But when I look at it, I see a fabulous 1950s circle-skirted sun dress; I see sweet little corduroy jumpers with Scandinavian motifs; I see a classic 1940s style suit; I see a tailored sheath dress; I see blouses and crib sheets and pajamas and more. If I had the time to sew up all of this, what wonderful wardrobes we would have!

Easy as ABC

Hey, look, I’m back! Just to prove I wasn’t neglecting you all and lounging on a beach somewhere, here is photographic evidence of what I was up to last week.

Going back to school! Again!

Poor little Rana with the sun in her face. We snapped a few quick shots before she headed off to school post-strike, so there was no time for posing or detail shots of the clothes. The ABC jumper is soft fine-wale corduroy with two patch pockets on the skirt and narrow ties in the back. Rana chose this fabric herself when we went shopping in August and was ecstatic to find the jumper hanging, completed, in her closet last week. The little blue blouse also received its finishing touches last week and was met with almost as much enthusiasm.  When I picked Rana up from school that afternoon, she said everyone told her how cute she looked. And, as if to prove the point, mere seconds later, another mom passed us on the sidewalk and said, “Oh, so cute!” Rana flashed a quick grin up at me as if to say, “See?!” And, naturally, I have to agree. It really is refreshing to see a little girl dressed like an innocent little girl. Each day that I pick her up from school, my eyes are assaulted by searing hot pink and glitter on everything. Rana definitely stands out from the crowd. Right now the other kids like her clothes and she is proud to tell people that I made them. I don’t know how long all the goodwill will last, but I am soaking it up now. Maybe I can store up the warm fuzzy feelings to get me through the lean years when my kids deem it the epitome of dorkdom to wear something Maman made for them.