unicorn bonnet & swimsuit book cover

i spent a lot of time sewing yesterday! it was nice to spend some quality time with the sewing machine (even though my whole body aches today–i probably over-did it by at least a couple of hours).

i started by finally making a new sunbonnet for ramona.


the bonnets i made for her last year were either somewhat ill-fitting (because i was still tweaking the pattern) or too small, since she has literally doubled in size (or at least weight) since last summer. as you can see, this bonnet provides room to grow! i had to add another set of snaps after i took these photos to get a better fit under her ticklish little chin.


i used some scraps of rainbows & unicorn fabric i had leftover from making my unicorn dress, & some red scraps leftover from the bacon dress. these bonnets really don’t take much fabric. i’m not ordinarily a huge fan of putting ramona is something so traditionally girly, but…let’s face it. she looks great in pink. why fight it?

it’s fully reversible, & i interfaced the brim so it could be folded back without flopping all over the place. when i attached to the main body of the hat to the flat back piece, i experimented with using gathering stitches to fit them together, like you do with a set-in sleeve. previously, i’d been adding a random pleat here & there to ease in the fabric (the body is somewhat larger than the back & has to be eased in to create a curve around the head), but gathering worked even better! it all came together very smoothly, with a perfectly even seam allowance.

the two dumb things i did: i cut the body of the red side of the hat on the bias. intentionally, because that was the only way to eke out enough fabric. but it did stretch out of shape a little during the sewing, which was a tiny bit annoying. all the more because of my bigger mistake: when i initially sewed the two sides together, i sewed the red piece inside out. & didn’t notice until i’d already stitched all the way around. so i had to pick all of that out & re-do it. oh well.

i do like that i used contrasting red thread for the topstitching & set the machine to a slightly wider stitch length, to make the topstitching a little more decorative. you can’t really see it in the photos, but i know it’s there, which is why i make this stuff, right? for the little things that only i (& other people who sew) might appreciate?


ramona went down for her nap right after i took these photos, & i decided i would use her nap to start experimenting with paper-piecing. this is not a technique i have ever used before, but i’ve admired its results on blogs & in books. i have a few paper-pieced patterns i’ve been keeping on the back burner for whenever i learn how to use them. i decided the time had come!


so here it is! my first try with paper-piecing. this design is by a woman named amy friend. here’s a link to her etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DuringQuietTime?ref=l2-shopheader-name

it took me a few tries to get the hang of this technique. you start off with sewing a foundation piece to your paper template, & then you have to trim all the seams to 1/4″. then you have to match your next piece to the seam allowance, stitching that down, flip the fabric over, & stitch the rest of it down. trim those seam allowances, match your next piece, etc etc. it’s kind of hard to explain. it was definitely difficult to understand (for me, anyway). i guess it didn’t help that i was using the instruction from the book “patchwork, please!”, & the author sprinkles her instructions with all kinds of helpful tips that were kind of irrelevant to me, as a first-timer. but i eventually got the gist of it, & then the project started coming together more quickly.

you might be able to tell from the photo that my first attempt came out less than perfect. i didn’t iron the seams as i went, which made it a lot harder to match them when i was joining up the different templates. i harbor a dream of buying one those little hand-held mini-irons specifically made for pressing fiddly little seam allowances while you sew, but i’m anxious about pulling the trigger on any purchases over $5 until my disability review is completed. maybe i’ll ask for one for my birthday. though i already asked jared for one of these amazing necklaces:


anyway. i think the next time i try paper-piecing, i will use my quarter-inch foot, just for a tiny bit of extra precision, & i’ll do the extra work of pressing as i go. & i will definitely try paper-piecing again! it’s such a cool technique. i’m already daydreaming about all the stuff i can make this way. can you imagine maybe a simple gray dress…with a sewing machine or a typewriter paper-pieced into the skirt?! amazing!

i wasn’t sure what to do with this bathing suit design once it was finished. but i wound up making this:


it’s a notebook cover. i didn’t have a lot of that brown fabric left so it had to be pieced together from scraps. (i am really trying to concentrate on using up scraps right now, instead of buying new fabric.) i didn’t use a pattern for this, just my own common sense. i added enough extra fabric around the bathing suit design to keep it centered, made that pink binding piece for just a little extra flavor, lined the cover front in more pink fabric (i have crazy amounts of this pink fabric in my stash), made pockets for the notebook cover, & then added the little button & elastic. i had a package of little buttons for fabric-covered buttons leftover from a project for which i did not use them. so i used one & covered it with the pink fabric. the elastic is actually one of the hair elastics i use when i put ramona’s hair in pigtails (like so):


the book cover fits a composition book.

so that was what i did yesterday! i managed to knock two projects off my exhaustive list of nearly thirty sewing projects i want to tackle.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

7 thoughts on “unicorn bonnet & swimsuit book cover

  1. That hat is super cute! I have so many projects in my mind, maybe it would be helpful to write them all down. I’m embarrassed to say, I have wedding quilts from *years* ago that I haven’t finished. One of the couples has since divorced, eeks!

    1. well, at least you didn’t waste a quilt on the people that got divorced! see? there’s an upside to being slow at finishing your sewing!

      i wrote my list down because it was making me crazy trying to remember everything. i am very big on making lists.

      1. It’s like 3/4s finished. Now I don’t know what to do with it! Finish it and give it to my friend as a “hey! you’re happy in your own apartment!” present? Finish it and hold onto it in case she meets someone else? I guess I should finish the other two 3/4s finished quilts first. :p

        1. maybe it could be a nice “happy in your own apartment” present? i got divorced in 2004 & i had a party when it was finalized. not that i was like, “yay! my ex-husband sucks so much & i’m finally free!” not even that it was some super-serious marriage in the first place. (we did it on a lark while driving through las vegas.) but you know. life changes & everything.

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