Real Life, Real Sewing Blog Tour


In my world there are three sewing truths…

  1. At any given time there is at least one UFO floating around my sewing space (aka. The Faceless Room) and the longer it stays a UFO, the harder it is for me to finish it.
  2. I could probably figure out a mathematical formula to predict my project errors. It would involve the mood of the kids, how much I slept the night before, how much I slept all week, the amount of coffee/wine I’ve drank, and the speed I need to complete the project. Speed kills… sewing projects…
  3. I get the warm and fuzzies when I catch myself wondering when I BOUGHT something and it turns out that I MADE it!

Organizing this tour gave me an opportunity to reflect on my past few years of sewing projects. It is amazing how much love things I sew can get. I almost feel like I have a super power!

1. What do you look for when choosing a sewing project? I do enjoy sewing “interesting” projects more but simple patterns tend to work better if I expect them to be worn everyday.


Happy birthday Miss P! #twoyearsold #realliferealsewing #cake #felicitydress #bellasunshinedesigns #sewing

A photo posted by Roxanne Kennedy (@pensebrox) on

2.  Is there anything you would like to (or wish you could) do differently when selecting projects? Total whining over here but I wish I lived in a place with warmer weather year round. I try to sew things that will be flexible for various seasons until the kids outgrows the item. This leads me to avoiding certain design details since I feel like the effort is wasted when it will covered up 80% of its life.  Which means I’m drawn to simple designs like the Felicity pictured above and the modified London Dress below.


 3. What is your most used/worn sewing project? This either could be of all time or currently. I have to confess that despite sewing a whole wardrobe worth of dresses for Pen recently, she pretty much lives in the modded back London Dress. I really love what I’ve sewn for Pen recently but the mystery fabric I upcycled for this dress does not wrinkle much.  That means I don’t have to take it quickly out of the drier or iron it when I forget to remove it quickly from the drier. Not needing to iron the dress definitely gives it an edge in my book!



4. Do you have a project that you thought would be used/worn frequently but just did not end up working out? I LOVED (loved, loved, loved) the Captain Jack Harkness inspired blazer I made Seb for Craftingcon but it was too light for the middle of winter (when I made it), then too heavy for warmer summer weather. He wore it a couple of times during the spring but he out grew it by the time fall rolled around. I don’t regret the project by any means but it is a good lesson in gauging how much wear an item will get vs effort spent on it.


5. What is your favorite tip or quote that applies to sewing for real life? “Measure twice, cut once.” is my default crafty mantra. That I should listen to more often…


Speaking of “room to grow”.  There is about 9 months between the two shots of Pen in the Hazelbee Baby knit dress. I quickly whipped up the dress the night before a trip to the zoo, that ended up never happening because somebody (too busy looking for their cellphone) hit us, destroying out car.  As much as I try to avoid thinking about the car accident in general, the idea that I added +10 armor to the dress when I made it does bring a smile to my face.

That is it folks! Thank you for stopping by. Don’t forget to head over to to check out more examples of Real life, Real sewing. I’m also posting daily examples over on Instagram. There is also a giveaway!


Do you have any examples of Real Life, Real Sewing to show off? You can play along by using the #realliferealsewing on social media.

6/20 | Sew 20 Tour Kick-off  | The Wholesome Mama | Wild & Wanderful  | Randoms by Rydz

6/21 | Daydream Believers | Sugarplum Cuties | Friends Stitched Together | The Inspired Wren | PenSeb&Rox

6/22 | Sewstarly | Very Blissful | House of Estrela | The Berry Bunch | Musings of a Seamstress

6/23 |  mahlicadesigns | sewingbyti | Candice Ayala | Call AjaireSunflower Seams

6/24 | Beri Bee Designs | Lulu & Celeste | FABulous Home Sewn | Mae & K | Sew 20 Social Media Round-up

6/25 | Sew 20 Tour Wrap-up

Real life, Real sewing Tour Kick-off


I’m kicking off my first blog tour as host over at sew20.comReal life, Real sewing is all about sewing in the real world. Everything from projects getting much deserved love in daily life to mishaps and failures. The idea for the tour originated from me noticing how seamlessly handmade clothing had started to integrate itself into my life.

Not only is the tour filled with an amazing selection of bloggers participating, I’m also sponsoring TWO $25 gift card giveaways. So be sure to check out the daily tour posts over at

Introducing Sew 20


I’ve started a new sewing site! One part magazine, one part blog, and one part aggregator. Sew 20 is something I’ve developed the idea for since last summer. Right now the site is pretty new and pretty barren but in the weeks to follow I hope it proves itself as worthy of your interest.

What is Sew 20?
Sew 20 is a sewing resource for sewing enthusiasts in the year 2016 and beyond. Features include a weekly list of new pattern releases, community tours, articles, and highlights from around the web.

What about PenSeb&Rox?
My personal blog will continue as it always has, a low-key personal blog about my sewing projects and other sewing prompts that strike my fancy. Part the Sew 20 inspiration came from ideas I had started to develop for PenSeb&Rox.

Sad story incoming…

I started this blog because my mom died. That event left a huge void in my life in many ways, one of which was that I no longer had her just a phone call away to discuss my creative projects with. As much as I’ve wanted to put a bit of polish on this blog, part of me never could get on board because this space is something of my happy place. Everything that I wish I could tell my mom about my creative activities, which I’m sure she would really like hearing about.

Which all translated to the realization that I didn’t want this blog associated with deadlines, stress, and other things that can come with looking at this blog as anything other than just for fun.

That is the background story of Sew 20. I hope to do a lot more with the project in the future and will keep you updated!


I’ve been a horrible Blogger Tribe member and this is my first Sunday Lately in several weeks. What I love about this group is that even when I’m not blogging much, keeping an eye on the share circle gives me all sorts of awesome things to read during the week when I found some downtime!

What has Roxanne been up to?

A photo posted by Roxanne Kennedy (@pensebrox) on


Despite illness and scheduling setbacks over the past few weeks, I’m close to pushing “publish” on a second blog project. I also finished Pen’s birthday dress. Yay!


I started planning for a trip our family will take to visit my Dad and other family later this summer!


I’m on day 14 of the 21 Day Fix and while I don’t think the workouts are bad by any means, I just like more variety to keep myself interested. I’m looking forward to being able to follow different videos once I meet my goal (two rounds). I feel like I have a short attention span when it comes to exercise routines. 😉


Emails, loads of emails, all the emails.

A photo posted by Roxanne Kennedy (@pensebrox) on


Since I’ve sewn many  summer things for Pen over the past two months, I feel like that project is coming to an end. I’m now looking at how I should plan my sewing schedule for the next few weeks.

Eh, maybe I’ll just keep sewing all the things for Pen. Making summer dresses is too much fun!!

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe
The Sunday Lately link up is found here and you are always welcome to join the Blogger Tribe Facebook group if you are a blogger looking to join.

Pen’s Beach Look + Giveaway! (Thread Faction Tour)

Thread Faction SS 2016 //

Summer is almost here and I’ve been off trying to create warm weather pieces for my long and lean daughter. I really liked the collection of modern basics Thread Faction has designed for the Spring/Summer 2016 season, so of course I jumped at the chance to try a few of the patterns when given the opportunity to join this tour. In this post I talk a bit about how I turned #103 and #104 into a tankini for Pen with a few size modifications and #108 was perfect to use at the basis for a summer dress/cover-up. All three pieces work perfectly together to create Pen’s beach look.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway at the bottom of this post and follow the link to the BIG giveaway Thread Faction is hosting. I’m giving away a copy of #108, the dolman sleeve dress/peplum I used.

I was given the opportunity to try out patterns of my choice from the Thread Faction Studio Spring/Summer 2016 collection. All opinions in this post are my own.


Patterns #103 (tank) and #104 (shorties) I thought would be perfect as swimwear with a few minor modifications. Both the tank and shorties are slightly fitted pieces but since I wanted to use the patterns as swimwear, I needed to subtract more of the pattern ease to create enough negative ease suitable for swimwear.


The patterns in the Thread Faction Studio Collection Spring/Summer 2016 have the size range of 2-10. Each tutorial has instructions for blending sizes and adding length. Pen is a long lean thing so even though she fits the smallest size (2) for length, I needed to do some adjusting on my own to get the pattern down to a width suitable for Pen.


I based my numbers on Pen’s measurements minus 15%. From my research it seems like the general rule of thumb is that negative ease on a swimsuit needs negative ease in the 20-25% range depending on the stretch of the fabric you are using. I was a little conservative with the percentage I used since the style of the pieces I think would allow a little extra room and I’d prefer a little more ease when dressing a squirmy toddler.


I used a spandex/lycra blend for both parts of the tankini. The bottoms have a lining added by me but the I did not line the tank. I really love how the suit turned out and think that #103 and #104 work great as a swimsuit.


Like with #103 and #104, I had to modify the width of #108. The dolman sleeve dress has a full circle skirt and a peplum length option. With the easy fit of the dress, I thought it would be a great beach cover-up.


Since the tutorial mentioned leaving the jersey edges raw as an option, I felt inspired to make something influenced by the cutoff shirts I saw all over the beach as a kid.



I subtracted 2″ from the bodice length and left off the neckband to make the bodice a little more cutoff t-shirt feeling.  The edges are serged with the Maxilock Swirl thread color “Tie Dye Punch”. Starly got me horribly addicted to the thread. Don’t become an addict too! Or you can… if you want… the swirl thread is loads of fun. I just need ALL the colors now!


For the bodice I used a mid-weight cotton jersey and the skirt is a lighter weight cotton jersey. The circle skirt of the pattern works well with the drape of the material. On the neckline of the bodice, I used serged scraps as a “necklace” detail. The dress will be great as a cover-up and summer staple with its comfortable fit.



The three patterns I tried out from I enjoyed sewing the three patterns I tried out from Thread Faction Studio’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection are  computer drafted with clear tutorials, size chart, and relevant tips to make the projects come together easily. I did notice that printing the sizes as layers are not an option but since the patterns are do not contain a huge amount of pieces, I don’t see it as a big deal.

Thread Faction SS2016 Blog Tour

Thread Faction has given me the opportunity to give away one copy of #108, the dolman dress/peplum top that I used for Pen’s cover up. My giveaway runs until 12:00AM EST June 9, 2016 and is open to all countries where allowed. There is also giveaway over on the Thread Faction blog that ends in just a few days so be sure to quickly head over and enter that one as well. Of course don’t forget to enter my giveaway first!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tour logo

26/5 Nap Time Creations Miss Castelinhos Swoodson Says Needles to say

27/5 Made By Sara Sew Not Perfect Hello Holli Whisk ’em

28/5 House of Estrela Made By Amanda Rose Max California Brave Fabrics

29/5 Create 3.5 Bless by Tone The College Seamstress

30/5 Ma Me Mi Mo Paisley Roots Skirt Fixation

31/5 Sew Very Rebel and Malice Call Ajaire

1/6 Better Dressed Child Buzzmills Handmade Frenzy

2/6 Lamb and ewe crafts All Things Beautiful Pen, Seb & Rox

Tour of my sewing room.


On the weekend Jessica, of Gracious Threads, posted a challenge in her Facebook group. The goal was to cleanup your sewing space before Friday.


During my this round of re-organization, I dubbed the space the “Faceless Room” because I have difficultly describing what the room actually is. The room has no “face”.


It is centrally located in the house between the living room and kitchen. It’s technically the dining room. We eat at a small table in the kitchen and host few parties so the space has long functioned as my office/sewing room, a playroom for the kids, and something of an art gallery to display their creations.


There are definite plus sides to having a space right smack in the middle of main floor. It is very easy to spend 10 minutes here and there working on projects. The ability to work in small bits of time instead of trying to find large blocks is of great benefit to me. I’d probably never finish anything if I had to go upstairs to work. It is enough to override the negatives of sharing a space such as my desk becoming the dumping ground for every broken and homeless object. It also means that there is no bribing Mr. Rox to watch the kids for a few hours  on the weekends while I hide in my sewing room.


It also means that all the storage space is shared. Storage has always been something of an issue in this house. Our home is 135 years-old. No foolies! There is a closet that was added to the room during the 1950’s but it is just fitted into the pre-existing space like many of the other “modern” features added during the same time period. It is better than nothing but is something of a puzzle to get it to work the most efficiently .


I completely forgot to take decent “before” shots of the closet before I started to clear it out. It held toys, pantry items, and stuff left over from when we pretty much lived only the main floor while we renovated the second floor.


I decided the second rod was a good spot to stick my giant roll over tracing paper out of the reach of the kids. Who would love nothing more than to TP the house with it…


Spring cleaning has been going on around the house for several weeks now which was a big boost in getting this project done quickly. Mr. Rox had installed a cabinet on the enclosed porch off the kitchen a few weeks back. After, I moved some of my kitchen items that I needed often enough that they still needed to be nearby but not so often that they needed to be right in the kitchen. This space in the kitchen was just waiting for the pantry items.  Mr. Rox had also taken over a spare bedroom upstairs for his office so I felt no guilt in handing him a giant box of his stuff that was in the closet.


I’ve actually also been devoting an hour or two on Sunday each week to a personal cleaning project. Everything in the before photos might have looked like chaos but it was something of an organized chaos. My patterns and fabric were already mostly sorted, I just needed to move it all to new homes.



The “junk” drawer on my desk became the new home for patterns waiting for assembly or are in rotation.


This window gets strong light through it at certain parts of the day and the glare makes it hard for me to work in front of it. It used to be covered with a curtain but back in February I got the idea to swap it out with a “curtain” made with those over-the-door-shoe-racks.  Having that already setup was a big help in organizing the random odds and ends I have floating around.


I also made the discovery that my rulers had holes for hanging…

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes now and others are going “WAH?!” like I did.  I honestly hated my rulers for being so hard to store and I really wish I would have noticed the holes sooner!


Thanks to Starly altering me to  this cheap-ish plastic folding table with adjustable legs, I will no longer feel ancient after long hours hunched over the dining room table. It is by no means the best solution for a cutting table since it is pretty small (48×24 inches) but the size allows me to keep it easily stashed away since it will only be out when I have cutting to do. Since I’m sharing the space with the kids, they still need access to their drawing board.


The hutch is also still the best place to keep Seb’s Legos out of Pen’s reach and to store things like craft paper for the kids. Some of the other toys/games once stored there stacked out Pen’s reach were moved to the top shelf in the closet since we don’t need them daily. After my re-organization of the room I see that I definitely need more fabric in my life!


Thanks for taking a look at the “Faceless Room” and thank you to Jessica for giving me the extra motivation to finish one of many re-organization projects I’ve been working on.A tou

Do you have a devoted sewing room or are you squatting in a communal space like I am?

Penny’s Portable Kit: Free Pattern @ CraftingCon

Penny's Portable Kit //

I have yet another guest post live at CraftingCon today. April’s “steampunk” theme inspired me to create a tutorial and FREE pattern to create a small portable kit that can be used for all sorts of things. Penny’s Portable Kit, the perfect project for the adventurer! Be sure to check out my post.

Upcycled Kids Clothing


Hello to my regular visitors and those coming from the Earth Day Blog Hop organized by Ula from Lulu & Celeste. It seems fitting that I discuss some of the upcycled kids clothing I made so far during April This month I had two goals…

  1. Continue working on Pen’s handmade wardrobe.
  2. Start spring cleaning in the attic, which just so happens to hold my stash of clothing ripe for upcycling. It was either upcycle or donate!

I figured it was inevitable that I’d make upcycled kids clothing during April. It was a handy coincidence that New Horizons Designs (formerly Terra’s Treasures) is hosting an upcycling themed giveaway that runs from 4/1 – 4/25. This lead me to plan my upcycle projects based on the two New Horizons I already owned, Paris Tea Time Dress and the Streamline Tee. Plus I love any excuse to make upcycled kids clothing!

Note: I am in no way affiliated with New Horizons Designs and gain nothing from referring people to the giveaway. In fact, the more people I refer the less chance I have to win! Ha! Here is just a gal that wants a random chance to win a Silhouette. You should give the contest a shot too. 😉


One of the things I love about upcycling is the ability to reuse components that might otherwise be a time-consuming to make. I hacked the Paris Tea Time Dress pattern by combing the skirt with the bodice to create a single a-line front that allowed me to salvage the button placket from the dress-up skirt.


Again I combined the bodice with the skirt to salvage the pleats from the original blouse. This time I had to go for a tunic length since I did not have enough “fabric” for a longer dress. Sometimes you have to roll with what you have. I’ve shortened skirts, slimmed sleeves, used smaller gathers, and made all sorts of changes for the sake of necessity.


Not only does upcycling give new life to old clothing but sometimes the clothes hold a little deeper story. I thrifted this vintage skirt way back when I lived in Paris (France). I fell in love with the print but since the skirt was a combination of flaws and a weird size,  I felt it was never destined to never be worn as-is again. I knew one day I would find the PERFECT way to revive it. I let the fabric speak to me and it told me to hack the Paris Tea Time Dress. I took two inches off the bodice length, adjusted the skirt length accordingly, added 4″ to both skirt pieces for a slightly fuller shape, and changing the the straps to elastic in a casing.


I love (love, love, love) raglan sleeves and I thought the Streamline Tee would be great hacked into a few upcycled knit dresses for Pen. Adding a skirt to a t-shirt is a great way to upcycle both knit and wovens. Unfortunately I think this version came out much boxier than I imagined but it will still get use as a play dress . I’m still investigating the “why?”. Right before I started writing this post I actually just finished two more hacked Streamline Tees for Pen using the same pattern, a similar idea, and slimmed down a bit. I had no time to grab photos for this post though. Boohoo!





Of course, I can not resist sewing for Seb despite him having at least 3x the amount of clothing Pen does thanks to hand-me-downs from neighboors. I upcycled a variety of old knit shirts (and pants) into a series of Streamline Tees for him. I totally enamored with how well the design fits him without any fuss. Seriously, I’m totally retiring the copy of the Recess Raglan I have printed in Seb’s size.

Hopefully some of my recent upcycled makes have inspired you to make upcycled kids clothing for a kiddo in your life.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other participants on the tour. Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you would like to see a peek at the other two upcycled raglans I’ve made Pen. I’ll be taking photos at some point this week.

Check out all the stops on the Earth Day Blog:

April 18:
Vicky Myers CreationsCoral and Co.

April 19:
Seam of My Pants

April 20:
EYMMCreate 3.5

April 21:
PenSeb&RoxCandice Ayala

April 22:
Lulu & Celeste (Round Up post)

#WANNABPHOTOG :: Mabel Madison’s Duds for Dudes


I’m big on sewing through my fabric stash this year (then I’ll have an excuse to buy more, right?) and the Duds for Dudes tour was a great opportunity to break out more of that awesome euro poplin from Mabel Madison that I had horded stashed away.



As you may recall, recently I kicked off Pen’s warm weather wardrobe with an “April showers” themed dress using an umbrella print Verhees poplin. Back when I grabbed that fabric I also got a yard of this snazzy Verhees camera print. I’m a vintage camera enthusiast (I collect working 35mm models) and channeled the Gollum while hording the fabric. Nobody steals the precious!


When the opportunity came for me to join the Mabel Madison Duds for Dudes tour, I knew it was time to finally use the fabric. The apple did not fall far from the tree and Seb has a blossoming interest in photography. Yay! I have all sorts of warm and fuzzy memories of taking photos with my Dad using a large format box camera, then developing the negatives in the bathroom.


Exhibit A




Seb totally deserved a pair of camera “pants”.


Since warm weather is sooo close I decided to make shorts and not pants. I used Momma Quail Patterns “Just Chillin’ Reversible Sweats” with no cuff and a few inches shaved off to make them a long shorts length. Since he is a skinny dude, I went for a 4 slim fit overall, 3 waist band, and added/subtracted length as needed. I also did not line the shorts since the poplin is a good weight for summer weather without it.


The pockets and waistband I trimmed with the mini dot Stenzo knit from Mabel Madison that they so generously gave me to go with the other coordinated fabrics that I had previously purchased. Some knits are full of fail when used in stress positions but a quality knit like Stenzo holds up well.



The mini dots I also used for the sleeves and details on the Recess Raglan by See Kate Sew (How many of these have I sewn now?!) I made to complete the look. I’ve never made the rolled sleeved option before and deviated a bit from the pattern by doubling up the cuff and slimming the tab. The cut of the pattern is pretty slim fitting so I made Seb solid 5.


2DSC_4732As you might of already guessed, of course the Stenzo chunky stars knit is also from Mabel Madison! Originally I planned on a solid knit for the main body buy noticed how beautifully the blue on the stars knit matched the blue touches on the poplin.  I was already determined to use the mini dot since it also matched dotted details on the cameras.



Despite all the prints used, I think the combination of color matching and pattern scale is what makes the look work.


Plus it helps if you have a spunky 5 year-old boy rocking the outfit!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m really glad I discovered Stenzo and Verhees fabrics via Mabel Madison. The quality is top notch and works great for kids clothes.


 Be sure to check out the posts from my fellow contributors for the Mabel Madison Duds for Dudes Tour today: Beri Bee Designs and FABulous Home Sewn.  You can also find all the other links on the Mabel Madison blog.


Thank you for checking out the duds I made for my dude. I’m currently working on a bunch of upcycles and finishing up a Steampunk-y tutorial that will be at CraftingCon next week. My Instagram is full of sneak peaks so be sure to follow!

The $3 Maggie Mae Dress

Maggie Mae Dress //

Another warm weather piece finished for Pen! I put the final touches (hemmed the tulle and added the button closures) this morning on this Maggie Mae (by Shwin Designs) that I started sewing last week.

Maggie Mae Dress //

Maggie Mae Dress //

The fabric I used is a cheap quilting cotton feature frog princess themed print and I added a layer of tulle that I grabbed from a remnant bin at a big box store.

Maggie Mae Dress //

While the materials used are not nearly as fine feeling as the euro poplin I used for the dress I posted about yesterday. It works for a play dress. Especially consider I used probably $2.50 worth of the quilting cotton and the tulle piece was a quarter!

Maggie Mae Dress //

Maggie Mae Dress //

I modified the Maggie Mae by adding the waist bodice piece to the skirt instead of cutting two separate pieces, added extra width to the under skirt for french seams, and adding a tulle skirt that was 4″ wider for extra floaty-ness (if that is a word). Instead of the series of buttons on the back with a placket, I changed to three elastic loops closed with three gorgeous iridescent vintage buttons.

I actually REALLY like the look of a long series of interesting buttons on the back of dresses and that is one of the reasons why I initially bought the pattern. At this stage in Pen’s life I’m much happier with simpler closure options or none at all, which is why I deviated from the pattern.

Dressing a squirmy toddler needs to become a competitive sport!

Maggie Mae Dress //

Maggie Mae Dress //

I still have another Glass Onion and Maggie Mae  ready for sewing. Hopefully I’ll get those finished up and the pile of upcycles I have cut this week.

Working on anything special this spring?

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Getting my craft on.