RetroBuffalo…my new etsy shop! Fun Vintage treasures!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I Love, Love, Love to thrift shop.  A bit obsessed I would say.  I am a bit embarrassed when I walk into my local Amvets and the cashier recognizes me or my girls.  Luckily my girls love it too, and get a big thrill out of checking out old toys, or helping me hunt out treasures.  I stop in at least once a week, usually on the hunt for vintage sewing supplies- sewing patterns, fabric and such.  Most of the time I walk out with a bag of unrelated items; clothes for the girls, random toys or books or all of the above.


I am a sucker for retro children’s illustrations in hardcover books from the past, dainty aprons from the 1950’s, old board games, retro barware.  The list goes on and on.  This passion for sewing and vintage sewing supplies has developed into a love of Vintage domesticity as a whole.  As discussed in this post, the history of a woman’s sewing box or supplies has great meaning to me, and this can be applied to any “old-fashioned” domestic item.  Simpler times, before our culture was so disposable, and things were treasured, protected, mended and appreciated.  The items I have been collecting can fit into this category of “domesticity”.  Everyday items in a woman’s life, that for some reason seem more “beautiful” than what is made today.


I am so excited to announce my new etsy shop- RetroBuffalo.  I have just started adding items (at the time of this post I have less than 10 up so far!), but please check it out and stop back within the next few weeks as the collection grows.  I will be adding a few special half aprons, vintage sewing patterns, more games and children’s items and more.

Check it out!  www.retrobuffalo.etsy.com


A little redecorating. A Blog Re-do!

I have never been totally happy with the appearance of this blog…something just wasn’t right.  I wanted to switch things up a bit and try a different look.  What do you think?  Do you like the new look?  Better?  I have to admit this little purchase from Antique World is what inspired me.


Isn’t it the cutest?  I just love that a little sewing table would have been a part of a girls doll house furniture set back in the day.  I just had to buy it, even though I am a mean mom and won’t let my girls get their hands on it for their dollhouse…yet.  Gonna keep it to myself for a bit before it gets jumbled in their bin of stuff, or yikes- gets stepped on when left out.  I am sure I am not the only one who wishes their kids took better care of their stuff…all of those small pieces get lost don’t they?

Anyways, after a crazy weekend of celebrating my husbands birthday, blueberry picking, the zoo and a bit of secret sewing I am inspired to get moving around here again.  I am ready to sew something for myself!  woo hoo.  Perhaps a sunhat or sundress?  Hoping this coffee energy keeps me going today!  I still have some work to do on this blog, I need to start looking a little more professional around here.


Finally! A Kid’s Clothing Week wrap up.

So, summer is almost over!  Or, that is how it feels around here.  Things are winding down and before we know it we will be gearing up for work and school in the fall.  After last weeks heat wave and the pressure of the Kids Clothing week challenge I am recouping and slowing down a bit.  Can you believe everything I made last week?

DSCN3992 DSCN3995 DSCN3985 DSCN3977 20130717_082135

20130718_085929  20130716_093602 20130716_092958 20130715_170524

I have also made a few dresses that I am SO VERY EXCITED about but can’t talk about yet (I am a pattern tester for one of my favorite blogs!)…busy busy.  This is on top of going to Jellystone, trips to the zoo, playdates, pool etc.  WOW.

This week, other than the secret dress making I am taking it easy.  Enjoying the girls and what we have left of summer (I know, we still have another month!).


Simple summer fun: A day on our ‘hood.

Enjoying our home, our neighborhood and surroundings.  I am so happy to live where we live, in an old city, with sidewalks, beautiful architecture, shady mature trees and a real sense of community.  Simple pleasures like riding bikes, playing in the grass, having a picnic on our front lawn and relaxing.

Here are some pictures of our day today.  At home.  In what we proudly call our ‘hood.

bike ride/fashion show


little library
little library
afternoon activity
afternoon activity
when I look up
when I look up


lunch on the lawn
lunch on the lawn


our garden
our garden
secret clubhouse
secret clubhouse






KCW-Day Seven! End with a strong finish…

It’s over!  I accomplished my goal- to make one item of kids clothing every day this week, photograph it and submit it to the Kids Clothes Week Challenge website, and post to this blog.  It wasn’t easy!  Next time I will be sure to prepare ahead of time and work out what I am going to make, and go shopping for fabric.  Can you believe I made everything this week with fabric and patterns from my stash?   Well, all except for the beautiful skirt I made today using the Out to Sea fabric by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabric I picked up last weekend from The Workroom in Toronto.  I love it, but will surely be a bit nervous about what Isabel is doing in it when she wears it- so much crisp white fabric!  So pretty.  This challenge was so much fun, but made much more difficult with the heat wave of this week, should be so much easier in the fall.  I plan on doing a roundup post on this tomorrow, and reflect on the process, and what I was able to get done.

For today I want to show you what I whipped up this morning, I can’t believe I made this AND went to the zoo today with the family!  woo hoo, super fast sewer here.  Pretty damn proud of myself.

First the skirt I mentioned above- a simple elastic waist, super full, twirly skirt:


Hey, I could’ve ironed it for this but I am keeping it real- I don’t iron.  Not much.

I also made the cutest pair of leggings, using the Go To Leggings pattern, a favorite.  I used a white/grey striped knit fabric I had originally bought to make an infinity scarf for me but never did.  I love how they turned out, and have a set cut out for Eleanor too!

DSCN3997    DSCN3995

I also love how great they look together…and apparently the skirt swings really well!



I think I just found my favorite spot for pictures, what a difference natural light makes.  Not that I didn’t know this before, but it is worth waiting for good light rather than being so impatient and taking pics in the evening with a flash.  Oh well, maybe I will be more organized and plan this out a bit better next time.  I’ve got to step up my game if I want to get people to actually read this blog!  That is the whole purpose of this right?


KWC Day 5: Retro Floral Romper

As much fun as this Kids Clothes Week has been I am looking forward to freeing up time to sew for myself again, and post something other than these projects.  I guess after a few days of something it starts to feel like work, also sewing in a room that is almost 90 degrees is not fun.   When is this heat wave going to break?   I have to admit I like to sit down and finish a project in one sitting, but sitting at my machine sweating only makes me make mistakes- many mistakes.  After sitting down for three attempts to make this romper, after ripping out multiple seams due to mistakes I finally finished tonight in the nick of time.  Phew.

Apologies for the picture quality- Isabel was getting ready for bed when I made her model and snapped some pics.  She looks so mature all of a sudden, so beautiful.  My little girl is growing up!  I absolutely love this style, a retro style romper: McCalls 6733.  I will make this again for sure.







The day is almost over, but I’ve got to meet my challenge!

So, this is a pretty lame post, but I must keep my challenge…to post every day and contribute one item to the Kids Clothing Week Challenge website at: kidsclothesweek.com.  Today we spent the entire day at Jellystone Park, swimming, playing mini golf, going down water slides, baking in the sun and playing on the beach.  Overall a wonderful, sweaty, sticky, and wet summer day of fun.


Before heading out there this morning I did manage to finish up this cute pair of sailboat shorts, too bad Isabel says they are too boyish.  Any little boys out there want them?  Seriously, send me a message at smallseams.gmail.com if you live local and have a little boy who wears a size 6.


An easy pull on elastic waist, with a preppy sailboat cotton fabric.  I love them.  I remember having a top with a similar pattern on it when I was a kid and I loved it, but that was before little girls wore so much pink and bling.  Oh, the late 70’s and early 80’s when girls played with classic legos (did they really have to come up with pink legos?), star wars toys and wore whatever their Mom gave them to wear…or was that just me?


KWC Day Three: Simple Summer PJ’s

This challenge is kicking my butt.  Making an item of kids clothing every day,  taking pics of it and posting in on this blog is alot of work!  Plus, I am ultra cranky because it is so damn hot.  Trying to sew in a room with no air conditioning when it is 90 degrees is no picnic.

Anyways, enough of me complaining.  I made the sweetest pajama set, and have the fabric cut to make another one when the temps drop.  Always have to make two so the girls don’t fight!  I used a light flannel with an umbrella print and made the set sleeveless with shorts for this heat wave.


Eleanor loves it, and even wanted to wear it to the grocery store today.  I almost let her.  Now if the Kids Clothing Week website would feature one of my projects I would over the moon, but for now I will settle with having a happy little kid.  I know my days are numbered where handmade pajamas makes her smile this hard.


KWC Day Two: Crochet yoke top (with crochet pattern!)

I am so excited to participate in this Kids Clothes Week Summer sewing challenge.  As I vowed earlier, I am challenging myself to sew one entire garment each day this week.  Call me crazy but I am pumped.  For day 1 I started a bit slow, but I prepared to come out in full force today, and came up with a tutorial as well.  I have made MANY different versions of this top/dress over the last few years- it has kind of been a signature for me so I can do it with my eyes closed (well, not really) so I figured writing up a tutorial would be easy.  Again, not really.  I usually wing the crochet part, and guesstimate the number of stitches and the type of crochet stitches I want depending on the fabric I am using.  Writing up a crochet pattern isn’t something I have ever done before, but I think I did a good job!  If anyone makes this and has any issues please let me know!  Scroll down to the end and see some of the other versions I have made in the past.  It is the sweetest summer top, and can be adapted into a dress or using a wool yarn and heavier fabric become s a cute jumper in the fall or winter as well.

For this tutorial I am making a summer top for my 6 1/2 year old daughter.  I used an all cotton yarn in a natural ecru color, and the fabric is a quilting cotton.  I have made two different versions.  The first is a bit easier, and uses the dress pattern for the Oliver and S popover sundress.  This results in a clean front- no gathering.  The second version uses a peasant dress bodice pattern so it is fuller and gathered, and the necline is larger resulting in a pretty flutter or ruffled “sleeve”.  I love them both!  Since Isabel is in summer school (I am so mean aren’t I- sending my Kindergartener to Spanish Summer school) Eleanor stepped in to model, although it is large on her she did an awesome job!

Crochet pattern:

Hook size: H/8- 5.00mm

I have never checked my gauge and wasn’t about to start now…I don’t find it necessary for this project.


Version 1: Easy

Chain 70

Row 1: DC across, ch 2 and turn.

Row 2: DC in first stitch, *ch2, sk 2 sts, DC 3sts in next st*.  Repeat from * to *.  End with ch1 sk1st, DC last stitch.  Ch2 and turn

Row 3: DC across all sts (inc chain sts) , ch 2 turn (111sts)

Row 4: HDC across all sts, ch1, SC 6sts across side of work, ch1 turn, sc 6sts,ch 8,  join with sl st to first st to form buttonhole.

Fasten off



Version 2-  Flutter sleeve version:


Row 1: Sc across, ch 1 and turn

Row 2: *Hdc in back loop 6sts, 2sc in back loop in next st*, repeat from * to *, end with hdc in back loop 7sts.  Ch2, turn

Row 3: Dc in back loop 9sts, 2dc in next stitch, repeat from * to *, end Dc in back loop 9sts.  Ch2 and turn.  (85sts)

Row 4: DC in first st, *Ch2, skip 2sts, 3Dc in next st* repeat from * to *.  End with 1Dc through both loops.  Ch 1 and turn.

Row 5: Hdc across all sts (including each of the ch stitches).  Ch 1 and turn.

Row 6: Sc across (135 sts)

Row 7: Ch1 and crochet 8sts along side of work, Ch1 and turn.  Sc 6sts (still along side) Ch8 and sl st in to first stitch to form buttonhole.  8sc across chain and join at other end.  Fasten Off



This will form a semi-circle for the neckline to be sewn at top of the fabric dress or shirt you have cut.

For the body of the dress you will use any bodice or dress pattern you have, or you can draft your own by tracing a t-shirt or dress your child may already own.  For the flutter example I used a peasant top pattern (from this book) and gather the neckline before sewing it to the crochet yoke.  After you gather your neckline (just eyeball it as to how much or you can measure your child from armpit to armpit for a measurement of how wide you want the front and back to be. ) you will either serge the top or zigzag to keep from fraying.  In a pinch I have also used pinking shears.  However you typically finish your seams.  Then, you will also need to finish off your armholes, either with bias tape or a double fold.

I like to sew on the yoke before hemming the top/dress to see what lenght I want it to be.  Line up your yoke to your top/dress top and pin.  I fold both of mine in half and line up the centers and pin.  Then pin out towards the armholes and repeat for the back.  Remember you will need a bit of overlap in the back for your button.  Then sew with a normal stitch with the crochet edge on top, backstitching at the beginning and end.  Repeat for the back and you are ready to try it on your little one and finish it off with your hem.    Sew on a special button and you are done!

I have adapted this pattern so many times, with wool yarn and denim, cotton yarn and quilting cotton fabrics etc.  Some of the past projects are:

20130716_093819    20130716_093711  20130716_094122