Tag Archive | clothes

COGS and COSTS

img_4652-1I was recently presented with the opportunity to sell some of my amigurumi’ s and children’s clothes and blankets at a farmer’s market. Most of the venders at the market were selling produce but there were a few craft vendors so I decided to join them. I would like to tell you about my selling experience and what I learned from selling my wares.

First off, I do not want to start a crafting or sewing business. Crocheting and sewing is my hobby. It’s what I do with my down time to relax. But, with that said, supplies are expensive. Yarn and fabric cost money. So, I decided that I could sell some of my amigurumi’s and children’s clothes to help pay for the supplies to make more.

img_4645I have thought several times before about selling some of the items that I have made, but every time I looked into the cost of doing so, I stopped there. I could set up an online Etsy store, but with the many amigurumi’s already being sold on Etsy, would I ever sell anything? Plus if I did sell something could I charge enough to make enough money to cover the cost of the store and shipping costs along with the cost of supplies to make the items? I could sell my items on eBay, but once again, after paying eBay and PayPal fees plus the cost of supplies would I make any money doing that?

Over the years, I have thought about selling some items at craft fairs, but once again, the cost of the booths stops me. When I asked how much a booth would cost at most craft shows, I was quoted between $75.00 and $125.00. That was too much for me. I did not believe that I would sell enough items to even cover the cost of the booth at those prices, let alone the cost of supplies.

img_5484You will notice that I never include the cost of my labor to make the items in my questions above. I learned long ago if you make around 50 cents an hour for your labor to make your crafts, you are doing quite well. Because of that I didn’t bother trying to include the labor portion of my cost of goods sold into the equations above.

When I talked to the manager of the farmer’s market, she said the cost would be $10.00 for the spot for the season plus 12% of my profits. That did not seem like too much to me, plus rather than laying out money up front, the cost was based on what I sold.

img_4647If I sold only a little, then they only got a little of what I sold. This sounded great, but, of course, there was a catch. I had to have my own tables and a canopy. I did not already have these things, so I would have to purchase them to be able sell at the farmer’s market. Luckily, I found both folding tables and a canopy on sale, but the cost was still about $100.00.

This initial startup cost almost stopped me from selling at the farmer’s market but after some thought, I decided that these were useful purchases, and could be used for other purposes other than for selling at the farmer’s market. Folding tables are always useful and nice to have on hand, and the canopy could be used in the back yard for holidays and family events. Plus, if I sold multiple weeks at the market, that $100.00 cost could be spread out over several weeks of selling.

img_4648Of course purchasing the tables and canopy was only the first step in getting ready to sell at the farmer’s market. Next, I had to figure out my COGS or the Cost Of the Goods I was selling, and then based on that number determine what I wanted to sell each item for. I decided to price my amigurumi’s based on size, complexity, and cost to replace the supplies to make the same amigurumi again. The clothes and blankets were harder to price but eventually, they were priced based on style, embroidery, and size.

Since this is my hobby, I did not calculate the cost of my time to make the amigurumi or the clothes. If I had added the cost of my time into the price, I would have priced myself out of the market and no one could have afforded what I was selling. So, luckily, I was not expecting a wage from my wares.

img_4649Selling at the farmer’s market was not easy or fun for me. I knew that I could not just sit on a chair by my tables of goods and people would walk by and throw money at me. I knew I had to sell my items which meant selling me, the creator.

Why would some one pay good money for what I had made?

I had to show and tell them why they would. I had to tell stories about my item’s creation. I had to express my love and concern that each of my amigurumi have a good home. I had to make small talk and entertain my potential customers and hope that my efforts were not in vain, and that someone would be interested and buy my goods.

img_4650This was very difficult for me. I had purposely over priced my items a little so that I could bargain a little with people, because everyone loves a deal! So, when it came time for people to get out some money to pay me or they seemed to not really be interested in what I was selling, I would offer them a lower price. This ended up not being a good selling practice, and it did cost me some money.

I really struggled with this, especially before I had made the first sell of the day, or when too many people had walked by without showing any interest in my goods. I can’t say that my selling techniques improved much over time, but luckily the husband was with me and he helped to keep me in check as well as to help with the selling of my items, especially on the rare occasion that I had multiple customers at the same time.

img_4651I learned very quickly that my amigurumi’s caught people’s attention and they would stop and look and sometimes buy, but that they had no interest in my handmade children’s clothing and baby blankets. In all the weeks that I sold at the farmer’s market, I only sold one blanket and one child’s shirt (which was sold at a deep discount).

I sold at the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks, and each week I sold a few items, but I decided that it was not for me. First, people did not come to the farmer’s market to buy a teddy bear or a little girl’s dress. They were there to spend their money on fresh tomatoes and peaches. What I was selling was an after thought for them. Next, I had to spend my precious days off selling my items at the market.

It was a full day event since I had to be there early enough to set up the canopy, tables and my goods before the market opened and I had to be there until the market closed. Then I had to carefully pack back up my goods and take down my tables and the canopy and haul it all back to the car. It ended up taking the whole day. The day off that I needed to take care of other things was spent trying to sell a few items. I was a little discouraged by this experience and did not think that I ever wanted to sell my items again.

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But wouldn’t you know it, opportunity knocked again…

I was asked to be the monthly featured artist at an art walk for one of the downtown stores in old town. It was just one evening for a couple of hours so I decided to do it. I arrived at the store an hour before the art walk started, and I set up my tables and displayed my wares on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was not really in the mood to sell to people, but I knew once again that if I wanted anyone to buy my items, I had to hawk my wares.

img_6541This time though, I did not cut any prices quickly and I did not care if I sold anything since there was no cost involved other than my time. At first, no one seemed to be interested in my items and I hadn’t sold a thing. After an hour or so, I commented to the husband that I doubted that I would sell anything this evening.

But shortly after I made my comment things started to change. More people started to arrive at the art walk and more people were interested in my amigurumi’s (Once again though, no one even looked at the children’s clothes and blankets. I did sell one child’s shirt, but this time not at a deep discount.)

img_6539I once again talked to the people who stopped to look and I sold my items, but this time I let them fall in love with my amigurumi’s and pay me my asking price. I did bargain with a few people but I felt better about these sales than I did at the farmer’s market. I believe it was because I had a better and more receptive audience for selling at the art walk. The people who had come to the art walk were interesting in seeing something fun and unique. Plus, I was much more relaxed about selling.

img_6540When the night was done, I had sold more in the couple of hours at the art walk than I had the several weeks at the farmer’s market. I felt better about the experience and I decided that I could sell my wares again but I would be very selective as to where and when.

But, before I can sell anymore amigurumi’s, I have got to get some more made. Between what I sold at the farmer’s market and what I sold at the art walk, my collection of amigurumi’s is now quite small. I would not feel comfortable doing another display of my wares until I get some more amigurumi’s made.

So, with that being said I had better get crocheting! Stay tuned to see what fun things I make next!

Until then, sew and crochet forth and sell on!

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Applying The Lessons Learned

IMG_0016After being so pleased with the construction process of the dinosaur vest, and then so flustered by the construction of the ant jar vest, I wanted to make another vest. And in the process I wanted to apply the lessons that I had learned and to end the vest making process on a more positive note.

So, I grabbed some more bottom weight scraps from my pile and some monkey printed flannel and I got started! As I laid out the fabric to cut, I spied some pleather that I had waiting to make its way it to the stash. Oh yes! I would give this vest a pleather collar and welt pleather pockets to step up the style!

DSCN3956With the design completed, I started to cut out the fabric. Because I was working with scraps, I did not have a single piece big enough to cut the back of the vest on the fold, so I would need to add a back seam to this vest. A back seam would not affect the wear or the construction of the vest so I saw no problems in having a back seam. Applying the lessons learned from the previous vest constructions, I remembered to cut the extra inch for the buttons on the fronts of both the top fabric and the lining. I also remembered that I wanted to add some interfacing to the pleather the next time I used it. Soon, I had all the pieces cut out, interfaced, and I was ready to start sewing.

DSCN3957The first step in the sewing process was the embroidering of the monkey design. Remembering the lessons learned from before about placement, I thought long and hard about the placement of the embroidery design versus the size of the design and the collar before I finally hooped the fabric and stitched the design. When the design was completed, I saw that I was not going to have an issue with the collar covering the design. If fact, I had over compensated and I was wishing that the design was a little higher than it was. Even though, the monkey design is the best placed embroidery design I have done on these vests, I still have a few placement lessons left to learn.

DSCN3700The next step was to sew the pleather welted pockets. As I debated about the placement of the welts, the husband peaked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. When I showed him the pleather welts, he said no, that I should make patch pockets like on the dinosaur vest from the pleather. I explained to him that I already had the welt pockets cut out and interfacing applied to the pleather welts, but he insisted that I should cut new patch pockets from the pleather instead. Since I know that the husband has a good eye for design I followed his lead and cut out some new patch pockets from the pleather and sewed them on the front of the vest. The pockets came out great! The pleather was easy to sew and the pockets look very good on the front of the vest. Plus, the monkey embroidery design sits at the top of the pockets so it is now not too low.

DSCN3702When it came to the pleather collar and the pockets, I remembered lessons learned about using a press cloth to iron the pleather. I top stitched the edge of the collar so that it would match the stitching on the pleather patch pockets. The rest of the sewing process went smoothly, even the stitch in the ditch seam of the band.

When it came time for the buttons and buttonholes, I applied the lessons learned from the previous vest’s buttons and buttonholes. I decided not to have a button at the top of the vest, but to place the first button so the vest was open as I expected the vest to be worn. I then spaced the other buttons appropriately. The buttons looked like they were in the right place and there was no seam issues when sewing the buttonholes.

DSCN3963I am super pleased with the end results of this vest! It is just adorable!

And as much as I hate to say it, the husband was right and I just love the pleather patch pockets!

The pleather patch pockets are just perfect with the monkey embroidery design and the pleather collar.

Plus, I am super pleased with myself for remembering and applying the lessons learned from previous sewing projects.

I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing this vest as much as I have enjoyed making it. With the success of this vest, I am ready to more on from vest construction to other sewing projects, but I will happily make more vests at anytime.

Until then, sew forth and apply your lessons learned on!

Time To Say Goodbye, and Hello!

DSCN3535DSCN3537“He’s dead, Jim!” goes the often quoted line from Star Trek’s ever present with a quip Doctor “Bones” McCoy. And in this case, it’s as true as ever…

My favorite Snoopy shirt, made so many years ago, is finally dead. It is faded, thread bare and as of the last laundering, has a small hole at the back of the neck.

But at least I can say I have wore it everywhere!

 

It’s been to London, it’s been to France, and yes it’s even seen the Queen’s underpants! Well Elton John’s anyway! It been wore to work, at home, for parties, on vacations, just everywhere! But I can no longer wear it outside of the house in public again in this shape.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to stop wearing it!

It’s my SNOOPY shirt you see, and I just can’t seem to let it go…

So, to ease the pain of my not being able to wear this particular Snoopy shirt in public again, I decided it was time to open the box of my most precious fabrics, the Snoopy fabrics, and to use some of it to make me a new Snoopy shirt.

DSCN2792Luckily I did not even have to open the precious Snoopy fabric box to pick out the piece of Snoopy fabric that I would use to make this new shirt from as I had just purchased it at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and it hadn’t even made it to the box for storage yet.

I then debated about the style of shirt that I wanted this new Snoopy shirt to be.

Collar or no collar? Buttons or no buttons?

DSCN3447After making my last project, the fleece football pull over jacket, I decided to make this shirt in that style, but with no hood and just short sleeves.

I would use my basic t-shirt sloper pattern, but I would cut a slit in the front to get the shirt over my head and use facings to complete the neck line.

This would be a very simple design that would let the Snoopy fabric be the details of the shirt.

I had never made myself a shirt like this before, but it didn’t seem like it would be too difficult to make the changes to the pattern or to sew it up.

DSCN3541It was easy enough to prep this fabric for cutting, make the alterations to the pattern and lay it out, but when it was finally time to cut the fabric, panic and fear filled my heart and soul…

I would be cutting into this precious Snoopy fabric and what if I ruined it?
What if I cut it wrong?
What if I didn’t like the pullover design?
What if I messed up the alterations?

DSCN3539I could not cut into this fabric.

I just couldn’t.

So I decided that I would not be making myself a new Snoopy shirt after all, and that I would never, ever have another Snoopy shirt again.

SIGH!

But to console myself, I would always know that I had a box filled with Snoopy fabrics that I could sometimes visit and look longingly at behind it’s bulletproof glass in it’s hermetically sealed climate controlled room.

As I was folding up the Snoopy fabric to put it back in the box, the husband wandered into the sewing room to see my progress. I explained to him that I just could not cut into my precious Snoopy fabric so there would be no new shirt. He sympathized with me and I was done sewing for the day.

The next day, the husband made a secret trip to Walmart and bought me some more of the same Snoopy fabric. He explained that now I could make my new Snoopy shirt as planned and I would still have some of this Snoopy fabric carefully tucked away in the Snoopy fabric box.

AAUGH! Isn’t he the best?

DSCN3542Well back to work on the new shirt then!

Cutting out this shirt went smoothly. The sewing of this shirt also went smoothly. I carefully stitched and cut the the slit and sewed the neck with the facings.

I did put a small bar tack at the base of the slit to stabilize the slit. I thought for a moment about tacking the slit open, and maybe adding some buttons, but then decided not to. And soon enough, I had a new Snoopy shirt to wear!

YAY!

DSCN3543This newly designed Snoopy shirt has passed the “wear test” with flying colors!

This shirt is very comfortable to wear and I like the design and the slit. It’s very hospital scrub like in design.

And, everyone loved the Snoopy and Woodstock’s on the shirt. I am so happy that I made this shirt and that it turned out so well!

And I am especially happy that I have more of this fabric tucked away in the stash to use for something else later on.

The success of this shirt MAY just have encouraged me enough to pull another piece of Snoopy fabric from the box and make another shirt from it. I might even use a fabric that can not be replaced readily.

Maybe! That’s a BIG MAYBE! We’ll see.

Until then, sew forth and Snoopy Happy Dance on!

The Long and Winding Road

941656_515344308514980_1754325710_nAnd so it begins. So in the last 18 months I have been able to loose some weight and keep it off. I’m pretty proud of myself. Although this is great news, it has caused a couple of sewing issues to arise. Namely all of my clothes are fitting me like plastic garbage bags and all my basic sloper patterns now need to be adjusted before I can start sewing myself some new clothes. Altering clothes and patterns is not one of my strong suits. I really hate to unpick seams. I am just lazy at heart. When I make something that needs to be taken in or let out, I take the easy way out and say that I will just adjust it the next time I make the pattern.

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P1020785This dilemma would have happened sooner, except I am like most women and I have a stash of clothes that I have out-fatted over the years but just could not bare to part with. And just knowing that someday I would drop those extra pounds and be able to wear those clothes again. And recently I have been wearing those clothes, but I am being teased about my ’80s shoulder pads and I can’t wear my ’90s grunge to work, so it is time to break down and either alter my recently made clothes or alter my patterns and make new clothes.

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Because of my hatred of unpicking seams, I decided to start out by altering my sloper patterns. While wearing one of my favorite ’80s shoulder pad shirts, I remembered that years ago my mom helped me to take a pattern from this shirt. Was there any chance I still had this pattern hiding in the back of my pattern box? This would be a great starting point if I did still have this pattern. Luckily, being the pack rat I am, I did still have that pattern.

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P1020787I decided to start this pattern altering journey with my t-shirt pattern. With the help of the old ’80s pattern and some new measurements, I cut out a current sized t-shirt for me. And I picked a fabric that I have a lots of, and am not the fondest of, to give this new sloper pattern a try. The sewing part of the t-shirt was pretty standard fare. I did try the shirt on a couple of times during the sewing process just to make sure I was on the right track.

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With the sewing of the t-shirt completed and the fit seeming to be good, I decided to do some embroidery on the shirt. When I started this project, I was not going to embroider a design on this shirt. Why would I waste the time and thread on a pattern fitting trial project? But, I was pleased enough with the fit of the final shirt to embroider on it so I did. I picked the Pig Pen design because I really like it and have always wanted a shirt with Pig Pen on it and I just hadn’t got around to it. You see lots of shirts with other peanuts characters on them but not usually Pig Pen alone. Plus, he looks good with the green stripe on the fabric, and since it is a casual shirt, he fits in on it quite well.

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P1020793As I was digging in the closet for the ’80s pattern, I found this black, white and grey striped t-shirt that I had made for myself about 5 years ago. It did not fit very well at the time I made it because the stripes are painted on the knit fabric and the paint took all the stretch out of the fabric. So, it was tucked into the closet for some later day project and that some day was now. It now fits me much better so as long as I had the embroidery thread and stabilizer out, I decided to add a design to this shirt as well and have another better fitting wearable shirt.

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P1020794Now for the biggest test of this whole project. The wear test. And after having wore both shirts a few times, the Pig Pen shirt fits pretty good and is very comfortable to wear but I believe that is due to the knit fabric. If I did not have the stretch of the knit would my alterations be correct? So, I am not saying that I have officially completely altered my t-shirt basic sloper pattern to its new size, but I am getting very close to it. And I am not going to be tracing a new final pattern from the mishmash of the two patterns just yet. But I am using those as a base to use on my next sloper pattern, my v neck no collar pattern, and that will be made from a woven cotton fabric. By the time that one is made and wear tested I should have a completely new pattern with the correct sets of adjustments that I can use for some future sewing projects for myself.

Not Just Another Sewing Reference

I have several books in my sewing library. Most of them are sewing references that I turn to when I have a question on a technique or how to handle a particular type of fabric. Some of the books are there to inspire me when I can’t seem to decide what to sew next. But, the one thing that I have never done is read any of my sewing books cover to cover.

On a recommendation of a friend, I purchased The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick. I planned to just file it on the shelf with my other sewing references waiting for the day that I needed it, but as I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that it was not really a reference book but more of a story about the process of sewing.

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After realizing this, I turned back to page one and started to read. The book took me step by step through the sewing process, starting with the tools needed to sew, how to handle different fabrics, fitting, altering and ending with designing your own clothes. It was a great read. Since I already knew how to sew, some of the information was a review, but some was new information to me and I learned a lot, especially in the chapters on fitting and altering clothes and patterns. The book also included basic patterns for a skirt, a blouse and a dress. They were not my style or size but they offered a good learning experience, and a chance to practice what the book was talking about. The book inspired me to get creative and start sewing outside of my comfort range. And, even though I have now read the book, it still has a home on my shelf along with my other sewing references. I will now use it as a reference book for when I need fitting and altering advice.

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So, if there are any seamstress’s out there looking for a good book to read to increase their sewing knowledge, I would heartily recommend this book to you.  Just be prepared that when you’re finished reading it, you will be ready to start creating. I am off now to check out some of my other sewing books, and see if there is some more good reading to be done.

The Tale of Two Diets and the Weight of a Wait

So several months ago my husband told me I was getting fat!

Well, ok that isn’t exactly true.

His exact words were more along the lines of: “You know dear we are getting older and we probably need to loose some of this extra weight we are carrying around so that we feel better and have less medical problems as we continue to age.”

But of course being a woman, I wanted to hear none of that! All I heard was “You are fat!” Now don’t get me wrong, I KNOW I am fat, since I have been considered “FAT” according to the Medical Definition of the term since I was about 3 days old.

We both lead very active lives and since my being overweight had not stopped me from doing anything that I had wanted to before, I just hadn’t really paid much attention to the issue. I’m very lucky to have had a very loving husband for 25 years now who doesn’t really see my weight as an issue and since we were pretty much both overweight when we met, when we were dating, and when we were married, it just wasn’t a high priority item on either of our lists to get the weight off.

At least it wasn’t until we reached our 40’s. Once you reach a certain age and things start to become more difficult for you,  like getting in and out of a car, or a chair, or those leather hot pants you bought back in the 80’s and thought were just “The Bomb” back then, you start to think about your future in different ways. Thoughts that when you are younger and in your 20’s and 30’s, you would never even have considered having.

So starting on January 1st, 2012 we both went on that most despised of despise’s, dreadful of dreadful’s, evil of evil’s. Yep thats right. The D word that we dare not speak it’s name or it will come and haunt us in our dreams while we sleep forevermore!


DUTCH CHOCOLATE CAKE!

Oh wait! That’s not it! I wish that were it! I’d actually “LIKE” to hear that D word!

No it was the other one that sounds a lot like DYE IT!

Now don’t get me wrong. Over the years like most modern women I have been on and off of several “weight reduction plans”. But for me anyway, mostly off.

I had done the New Years Resolution Fad Diets, along with every other woman on the planet for the last 30 years trying to get rid of a few of those extra “Holiday Pounds” we all seem to gain every year during the holidays.

But this year was different. This year about 6 months before January 1st rolled around my husband had started to compile data and do some research like he always does when he is getting ready to make a change to something in our life. And by January 1st, 2012 he had created a “Lifestyle Modification” for us.

When he first told me what it entailed I told him he was “Crazy in the head” and that there was no way we could do what he was asking. But three months later and 52 pounds lighter and several pants and shirt sizes smaller, I have to say he wasn’t so crazy after all. Well maybe crazy like a fox. He has lost more weight than I have in the same amount of time, but since he is more than a foot taller than me and male, that was to be expected.

He insists that since this isn’t really a diet, and instead is something we change in our daily behavior so it’s really more a psychological thing than a physical thing, that we should be able to stick with it over the long term rather than the two week’s and I’ve had enough holiday diets of yore. And I must say, it is nice to be back to my 10 year ago weight, and to not have had to give up too much to get here. My next goal of course is to get back to my 20 year ago weight and I think given some time and effort I can get to that point too. All in all I am excited for what the future brings.

Now some of you may be saying at this point “Super! You lost a few pounds! Now what does this have to do with sewing?”

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Well, I’ll tell you what it has to do with sewing!

Since I have lost the weight,  I now need to make several new articles of clothing to fit my reduced size and you should see the fruits of those labors showing up on here very soon! At least that is the plan.

Thanks for the Memories

My niece recently posted some pictures on her blog of her kids in clothes I made for them many years ago. It is always great thrill for me to see new pictures of the kids. But to see them in the clothes I made is extra special, and it sent me on a trip down memory lane.

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The first picture was of her two youngest boys. She has 4 now, by the way. The older of the two boys in the picture is wearing a jacket I made for her oldest boy’s 3rd birthday, 7 years ago. Both boys looked so cute wearing the jacket. With a little reminiscing, I remembered the construction of this jacket. It was the first time I had made welt pockets. I did not want just patch pockets on this jacket and I remember reading about welt pockets in one of my sewing reference books.

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I remember sitting at the sewing machine hurrying to complete the pockets because they were coming to see us, and we were going to a local craft show at the high school. I remember hoping that the little guy would like the airplanes on the fabric and that he would be able to zip up the jacket by himself. I remember being concerned about the zipper because it was a smaller tooth zipper than I wanted to use but the color was right.

The second picture that my niece posted was of her youngest boy in a shirt I made for the oldest boy back when he was just one year old. All 4 of her boys have wore this shirt now. I am amazed it lasted this long. I made this shirt just after I got my very first embroidery machine. I used the scraps from a shirt I had just made for my husband.

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In fact, there ended up being enough scraps for two shirts in size 1. One shirt was embroidered with Mickey Mouse and the other shirt with Donald Duck. Donald Duck is my niece’s favorite Disney character so you can see which one the little guy is wearing in the picture. On these shirts, I put ribbing around the sleeves. Each time I see I picture of one of the boys in these shirts, I regret adding the ribbing. To me, the ribbing gives the shirt a feminine look and I have not added ribbing to the sleeve of a boy’s shirt since.

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I would like to thank my niece for posting the pictures and for taking care of the clothes, I made so that each boy could enjoy them and I could see them wearing them.  Now that she has 4 boys and the oldest is a tween and is becoming very particular about what he wears, I have not done any sewing for them recently. But, with as much as I love sewing for kids, it might be time to get back to the sewing machine and get some new clothes made.