Sometimes you just have to whip something out fast. I mean, FAST. like in an hour before Easter brunch and you have no clean pants but fabric and a basic pattern. This year’s picture day was my Three Amigos moment, sewing like the wind.

It started with the flyer that came home in the  backpack on Friday, announcing Monday picture day. Ran to the closet, assessed that I didn’t have tights that fit or shoes that aren’t scuffed and no time to order good ones. Target run it is. Then the clothes. So here’s the thing: it’s not like Miss Cakes doesn’t have perfectly acceptable options in her closet for photos. But SCHOOL PICTURES. The ones that line your staircase for the next 20 years that your prom date sees. The ones where you wish your mom had saved that heart sweater so you could put it on your own kid. Those clothes are remembered more than even some of your long forgotten favorites because they are immortalized FOREVER. So do you want to send your kid in the cutest thing that’s clean, or do you want them to remember the special things you took the time to make for them? Yeah, I thought so.

Luckily I have an understanding husband who took over Saturday’s fancy schmancy breakfast cooking so I could cut on the kitchen table. I had bought this adorable fabric from Cotton + Steel’s Boo! collection at the Quilt Expo a few weeks ago, intending to make the Oliver + S Apple Picking Dress, and had already pre-washed and pressed it.

SPEED SEWING TIP 1: Only moderately care about pattern placement. As much as I’m usually such a stickler, when you need to cut fast, just pick a couple things and don’t obsess. I made sure the pattern would run around the body with fronts and backs on the same placement, decided the center fold was cute enough, and just cut. Didn’t even check sleeves, because it’s just an allover and the pattern wouldn’t stand out terribly. Done.

Cotton + Steel Boo!
How cute is this selvedge?!

SPEED SEWING TIP 2: Ignore the instructions. Scan them through once quickly, get the gist of where you’re going, and then put them down. Sew literally every seam you can until you have to get up and move to the iron or get a scissor. Also chain piece, feeding everything back to back, saving thread. Skirts, side seams, sleeve seams, the bias tie, any circumference seam, JUST KEEP GOING. 

SPEED SEWING TIP 3: Try to avoid a trip to the store. I didn’t have matching sewing thread OR serger thread, and it was faster to French seam everything rather than run to the store and spend time and money on new thread. Picked a cute contrasting lavender and called it a “design choice.” 

SPEED SEWING TIP 4: Minimal fittings. Avoid completely if you can. I took a nape to knee measurement on Miss Cakes, and guesstimated on hem length and just went for it. I assumed that since Oliver + S patterns are usually a little big and boxy on her, none of the circumference fits would be too small or terribly off. I only popped it on her once, to check the sleeve band would truly fit over her hand, and to double check hem. Otherwise, just sew, sew, sew. 


And that’s all folks! Admission: I did have to run to the store Sunday morning to get buttons. The only buttons I had in quantity were silk white bridal buttons, and they just weren’t what I wanted. Love the bronze metal I found.


Also whipped out a matching headband with a wool felt bow to match her boots.  I wanted to do a wool applique barrette or a headband piece similar to the candies on the fabric, but as this was FAST SEWING, a bow sufficed.

OMG, please let her smile be this cute for the actual pictures.

The insides: French seams for most of the garment, and the two seams I serged (the skirt to bodice seam, and the armscyes).

And dancing, as she does so well.  Especially in piles of leaves.  Have I mentioned yet in this post how happy I am about fall?  Because FALL.


Happy picture day to all those with littles in school!  And a happy fall to everyone!

Love from Wisco,