Dress A Doll and Help a Girl

Little girls and dolls belong together!     Little girl with dolls

Sadly, not every little girl has that privilege of a fun, safe childhood with dolls and doll clothes.  This summer, at My Grandma Knows, I want to give you an opportunity to partner with me to help young girls in Managua, Nicaragua.

La Chureca is a village within a garbage dump in Managua, Nicaragua.  The residents of this village suffer from extreme filth, poverty, and hopelessness.  The air is so contaminated that it slowly poisons the people who live there.  Girls are especially vulnerable to drug abuse and sex trading as they are sometimes given in exchange for first access to new loads of garbage.

 Forward Edge International has built Villa Esperanza, a “Village of Hope” in Managua and has rescued some of these vulnerable ones from their life amid the garbage.  Natalie Goss, one of my former students and now my friend, serves at the Villa Esperanza as their Child Sponsorship Representative and Field Staff.  (That’s Natalie on the right in the picture below.)

What does any of this have to do with you?

How can you help?

It’s simple, really.  All you have to do is purchase doll clothes for your 18 inch dolls (like the American Girl dolls) from My Grandma Sews Facebook page or Etsy shop.  For the next three months, I will be donating all of the money from doll clothes sales (after shipping and Etsy fees) to the girls at the Villa Esperanza.  The money will be used to help the girls buy Christmas presents for their family members who still reside in La Chureca.

The Villa Esperanza is helping to restore these young ones by meeting their physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs.  The girls who now live at the Villa maintain contact with their families and visit them regularly, but they no longer have to fight to survive.  They can be children again. 
villa girls

Check my Facebook page and Etsy shop often for new items!  Your girls can help other girls by shopping at My Grandma Knows!

First image courtesy of artur84/www.freedigitalphotos.net

“Dress My Doll, Please”

Recently, one of my alterations customers brought me a doll that belonged to her mom and asked me to dress the doll.  I have been sewing doll clothes since December 2013, but only for 18 inch dolls like the American Girl dolls.

The doll that my customer brought to me was quite small and old and fragile looking.  I decided to accept the challenge.

First I rummaged through my patterns and found a vintage pattern that I had recently bought at a thrift store for $.25.  The pattern included clothes for 13-15 inch dolls, but the doll that I was dressing was barely ten inches in height.  I would have to improvise.

I started with a basic pattern and made it quite a bit smaller and shorter.  I chose a peasant style top and bloomer style pants in coordinating calico prints that have an old-fashioned look to them.

outfit for ten inch doll

The tiny bloomers are made from a very tiny floral print in peaches and cream colors.  I made the top from a coordinating print in blue, tan, peach, and green.  I added a strip of the peaches and cream fabric down the front of the top to make the two pieces look like an outfit.  The tiny tan button at the neckline was my finishing touch.
ten inch doll outfit

I love the way this little outfit turned out, and I hope that my customer likes it, too.  At least her little doll isn’t naked any longer!

Lalaloopsy Doll Quilt and Pillow

Allow me to introduce you to Lalaloopsy:


Lalaloopsy is a long and rather skinny doll that is quite popular with one little girl I know.   I’m beginning to see patterns for Lalaloopsy clothing, so she must be popular with other little girls, too.

Recently a friend of mine, whose little girl is the Lalaloopsy fan, asked me to make a blanket and pillow to fit in a cradle that she is passing down to her daughter.  Lalaloopsy will we sleeping in the cradle after this weekend.

I accepted this mission which held particular appeal for me since my friend is a talented jewelry maker, and she agreed to pay me in jewelry.  Here’s what I came up with in my sewing studio this week:
Lalaloopsy quilt, pillow and pillowcase

My friend asked me to use girly colors in bright tones, so that’s just what I did.  My inspiration for the quilt came from a remnant of a border print in green, pink, white, and blue.  I added the yellow in the quilt for a pop of sunshine and to keep the quilt from looking too matchy-matchy.  (I’m pretty sure that’s an official quilting term.  If not, it should be.)

I’m no quilter, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed with this blanket, so I used the same method that I used to make mug mats in the past.  The pillow is merely a stuffed rectangle made from a white cotton scrap.

For the pillowcase, I used a method that I use when I teach beginning sewing lessons.  I hate to admit that the one of the most time-consuming parts of this whole project was figuring out the measurements for the pillowcase.  This is why I never sew without a pattern!
Lalaloopsy pillow and pillowcase

The back of the quilt is a solid floral print that I repeated on both ends of the top of the quilt.
Lalaloopsy quilt back
The dual feed system on my Janome sewing machine was so helpful with the quilting!  I simply stitched in the ditch between the fabric strips on the front of the quilt.  Too bad I didn’t plan the placement of my label.  I ended up quilting through it.   quilt back with label
This was such a fun project.  I hope the recipient of this gift enjoys it for years to come!  Happy Birthday, Sage!

Today’s Sewing: A Toddler Romper

toddler girl's romper

A few weeks ago, Justine requested that I make a few rompers for Aaliyah to wear this summer.  Justine really likes rompers, and Aaliyah, of course, looks adorable in rompers, so I agreed.

This is the first pattern that I tried, and it’s a very simple and somewhat old-fashioned design.  This pattern includes what we now call a pillowcase dress, so I suppose we could call this a pillowcase romper.

The construction was quite simple with elastic in the neck and ribbon ties at the shoulder.  The fabric that I chose is a beautiful cotton print that I bought at Joanns.  The cream background with pink flowers has a vintage look to it.

I can’t wait to see Aaliyah in this one!

Today’s Sewing: A Doll Purse

Purse for American Girl Doll

I spent the day in my sewing room today working on doll clothes.  I decided to add a purse to one of the outfits that I finished.  Here’s the purse I made using the same fabrics that I used for my very own Florida Two Zip Hipster that I love.

This little bag is lined with matching fabric and had a contrasting strap that coordinates with the matching outfit.

Watch for this little bag to show up for sale on my Facebook page within the next few days.


Not Your Grandma’s Doll Clothes

When I was a little girl, I liked to play with dolls.

One of my fondest memories is looking through the Sears catalog each December, circling all of the doll clothes and accessories that would make my dolls’ wardrobes complete.  I don’t recall receiving any of those items that I wished for, but several times my mom and sister surprised me with handmade doll clothes.  My mom did the sewing, while my oldest sister did the knitting.  Those doll clothes, stitched with love, were among my favorite Christmas gifts ever.

In December 2013 when my sister asked me to sew up an outfit for her granddaughter’s American Girl doll, I rediscovered the magic of beautiful doll clothes and accessories.  I was hooked and couldn’t wait to sew more outfits for dolls.

Naturally, I just had to buy myself a new doll!  After all, somebody was going to have to model the new clothes I was going to make.   I chose a Madame Alexander doll, whom I named Flavia (after one of my favorite mystery heroines), and she is just beautiful!

My 18" doll

In my search for patterns to use for making doll clothes, I happened upon The Liberty Jane Company and Pixie Faire, their website for doll clothes patterns.  I fell in love with their contemporary styles and easy to use patterns.

Adding handmade doll clothes to my custom sewing business has been a fun venture for me.  My goal is to provide American made doll clothing and accessories that will last for years to come.  I have chosen contemporary styles and high quality fabrics and trims to bring your girls the doll fashions of their dreams.  These are not your Grandma’s doll clothes!

If you are interested in seeing the items that I am selling, please “like” my Facebook page where I will be posting the photos and prices.



A Scarf That Doubles as a Bib

Have you ever been out to eat and dropped food on your clothes?  That happens to me way too often!

I used to carry one of those Tide stain sticks, but I never had much success removing a stain with one of those.  Sometimes I use my napkin dipped in water to try to remove the offensive stain, but that just leaves me with a large wet mark on my shirt.

There have been times when I’ve resorted to tucking a paper or cloth restaurant napkin into the neckline of my shirt to avoid the inevitable.  But not any more!

Wearing my scarfkin at Texas Roadhouse.

Now I wear one of my cover up scarves.  My scarf is made from a washable silky fabric and  is wide enough to cover the front of my shirt while I’m eating.  Each side of the scarf measures 8.5″ so when slightly overlapped, I have approximately 14″ of coverage on the front of my blouse.

Any food or drink that happens to fall on my scarf totally misses my shirt!  This silky floral scarf looks so much prettier than a napkin tucked in my neckline, too.  Nobody at the restaurant suspects that I sort of ….. okay, I really need to wear a bib.  I also use my scarf in the car when I’m drinking coffee.  I hate arriving somewhere with a coffee stain on the front of my shirt!

I have several of these in various colors.  I keep one in my purse at all times so that I’m always prepared.  Each time I drop food on my cover up scarf (which is practically every time I wear it), I simply toss it in the laundry to be washed.

black floral scarfkin

I make these scarves from washable silky prints or plain fabric.  The scarves sell for $9.

scarfkin serged edge
Wrong side of scarf serged edge

The edges of the scarves are finished with a four thread serged finish and a 1/4″ hem.  The serged edge stands up well to repeated laundering.

Scarfkin 1/4 inch hemmed edge
1/4 inch hemmed edge

If you are prone to food falling from your spoon, fork, or travel mug, then one of these cover up scarves could be just what you need!

These are the fabrics that I have available right now.  I will also take custom orders if there is a particular color combination or fabric that you would prefer.  If you need one of these scarves, you can contact me here using the form on the “Contact Me” page.  Or you can contact me on my Facebook page.

These scarves make great gifts, too!

animal print
animal print


black geometric
black geometric
navy print
navy print
autumn hues
autumn hues

How often do you drop food on your clothes?  Don’t be afraid to admit it here! 




Tea Dying Cotton Fabric

Last month, a customer asked me to make her a cross body messenger bag and a matching Two Zip Wristlet.  No problem.  Then she asked me to make it from black and beige fabric.  Just black and beige.  She prefers paisley and polka dots.  Yikes!  I spend a fair amount of time looking for and at fabrics, and I wasn’t able to recall a vast selection of paisley and polka dots in black and beige.

Surely there had to be something available at my local quilt shop.  But there wasn’t.  I found black and beige polka dots, but how boring!  I left the shop with two yards of the same black and white fabric that I had used to make my niece’s diaper bag.  I reasoned with myself that the white wasn’t really all that white, and the print included paisley and dots.  Three out of four isn’t so bad!  

As I was driving home, an idea flashed in my mind.  I’m sure the idea was from God.  It was certainly the answer to my prayers for just the right fabric for these projects.  The idea was this:  tea dye.  I just knew it would work!

Here’s a travel bag that I made with the fabric in black and white:
black and white travel bag

And here’s the black and beige wristlet:
tea dye fabric wristlet

Isn’t it pretty?  I have to admit that I wasn’t all that enthused about black and beige since I love bright colors and cheery prints, but I really like this tea-dyed fabric!  It has a classic look, and it’s perfect for the lady who ordered it.   The tea dying was fairly simple, and it’s a process I wouldn’t hesitate to use again to achieve just the right color of fabric.

In addition to the wristlet, she wanted a cross body messenger bag.  This particular messenger bag is made from a pattern that I designed myself for my friend Ann who described to me exactly what she wanted.
messenger bag

It’s a smaller bag measuring approximately 8″ x 9″ x 1.5″, but it has plenty of room, too.  This particular messenger bag has a zippered pocket in the front under the quilted flap.
zippered pocket on messenger bag

Four pockets line the inside of the bag.  These interior pockets are large enough for a checkbook or sunglasses.
messenger bag interior

I added a pocket to the back of the bag, too.  This pocket that is free from any kind of closure is so convenient for keys, coupons, or a shopping list.
messenger bag, back pocket

These bags are on their way to Florida, and I sure hope the recipient likes them as much as I do!

What do you think of this black and beige fabric?


A Zip And Go Bag

I never sew without a pattern.  Some people think that anyone who knows how to sew can just whip projects up out of thin air, and some seamstresses are gifted at that.  I’m not one of them.  I never sew without a pattern.  Never.

With all of the great patterns for sale, I don’t ever really need to sew without a pattern.  One of my favorite pattern designers is Erin Erickson who blogs about and sells her PDF patterns at Dog Under My Desk.

My most recent project made with one of Erin’s patterns is this Zip and Go purse, and I love it!
zip and go purse

The Zip and Go is a small cross body bag that measures approximately 9.5″ tall X 7.5″ wide.  It has a 30″-55″ adjustable strap.  

This Zip and Go bag doesn’t hold a lot, but it will hold the essentials.  The long cross body strap makes this the perfect hands-free bag.  I still love my wristlets, but sometimes I don’t want a wristlet dangling from my arm.  For those occasions, I now have this Zip and Go!

Zip and Go

The main section of the purse measures 9.5″ x 7.5″ and the front pocket
measures 6″ x 7.5″.

Zip and Go

This Zip and Go is now my go-to bag for shopping.  It holds a bit more than my wristlet, but it’s not at all heavy or bulky.   I’m definitely going to make one is bright colors for spring and summer!

When would you use a Zip and Go? 


Diaper Bag or Travel Bag

Traveling Tote

This is the latest diaper bag (or travel bag) that I made using the Traveling Tote pattern from Palm Harbor Patterns.  My sister commissioned me to make this bag for her youngest daughter who was expecting a baby around Christmas.  My niece and her husband opted not to find out the sex of their baby ahead of time, and that made choosing a diaper bag style and fabric a bit of a dilemma for me.

Since my niece would be carrying the bag for two years or so, my sister and I decided that we should let her in on the color and pattern selection.  My niece decided on a classic look rather than a cute, kiddie print diaper bag.  She asked me to find a black and white print and accent it with a pop of red contrast.

diaper bag with zipper closure

She also requested a zipper closure instead of the usual magnetic snap that I use for this pattern.  I decided to use a red zipper, too, to coordinate with the red trim band on the front and back of the bag.

diaper bag with back zippered pocket

The back of the bag has a zippered pocket, and I chose to use a red zipper for that, also.  To me, the bag looks more like a girl’s diaper bag than a boy’s, so I was especially happy when, on December 27th, my niece gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and named her Eliza Jane!

I sure hope Eliza likes her bag!



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