Sunday 23 March 2014

Tutorial: Summer Frills Dress

Since my interest in sewing has increased over the past few years, I find that I'm always noticing people's (especially kid's) outfits, and often my inspiration for a design comes from something I saw a kid wearing somewhere and thought looked cute.  Does anyone else do that??  Well, this little frilly number is the perfect example.  I was sitting behind some friends at church one week, and noticed their little girl wearing a beautiful floral dress with frilly cap sleeves and a couple of buttons at the back.  It's such a feminine little dress, and is super-cute!  In fact, I remember that little girl's big sister also wearing the dress before her!  Love a good hand-me-down!

Anyway, so when my Mum and Dad came back from a trip to Hawaii with some 1-yard pieces of beautiful Hawaiian fabrics, I thought I'd give this design a go.  I'm so happy with the outcome too in this gorgeous pink hibiscus print.... and this is another of Hannah's favourite dresses … she's been absolutely into dresses this summer!

 I thought I'd make another for Bethany and take some snaps for a tutorial.  Here's Bethany's version (a top!) ... and yep, she's stoked with hers too. Oh, and you might notice from my tutorial pics that I originally made Bethany's as a dress ... yep, it was just one of those things really ... I didn't like this fabric as a dress, it was just a bit too much if you know what I mean.  So I turned it into a top instead.  But, I wrote the instructions for a dress so you can simply take your pick!!

Wanna make one?  Here's what you need:

- 1 yard/metre woven cotton fabric (1 yard was plenty for Hannah's size 2 dress, and just enough for Bethany's size 6 dress)
- Coordinating cotton
- Measuring Tape
- Sewing machine
- Scissors  or a Rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Overlocker (serger) if you have one, or you can just use the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine.

Here's the 'how to':

1.  Firstly we've got to take some measurements.  If you can't measure your munchkin, you could always measure a t-shirt or something in the correct size.

So, measure around your munchkin's chest ... just under both armpits and right around their chest.  Then add 2 inches to this measurement.  So, Hannah measured 19" around her chest ... add 2 = 21".

2.  Cut the following pieces:
-  The front band - 1 rectangle measuring chest measurement above (21" in Hannah's case) x 3".  Then cut this rectangle in half, so you have two rectangles ... that's 2 rectangles of 10.5"x 3" for Hannah's dress.
- The back bands - 4  rectangles measuring (1/4 chest measurement + 1") x 3" (for Hannah this was 4 rectangles measuring 5.25" x 3".
- Straps - 2 rectangles measuring 10" x 3" (if you're making this dress in a much bigger size, you could lengthen these straps a little.
- Frilly cap-sleeves - 4 rectangles 6" x 3".

Here's what you'll have ... matching pieces are laid on top of each other in this pic!

2. Grab your front band pieces and lay them on top of each other.  Then measure 1 inch down the short side, and 3 inches along the long side at each end, place a pencil mark, then use scissors to cut the corners off at the marks you made... like so ... 

Then do the same for you back bands like so ....

3.  Now, lets make the straps and frilly cap-sleeves.  Grab your frilly cap-sleeve rectangles, and place all four rectangles on top of each other. Then, starting in one bottom corner cut up to the top, and down to the other bottom corner, creating an arc like so ....
You could always make a pencil line to follow as you cut, or if you want to be clever lazy like me, just free-cut it!

4.  Take two of your cap pieces and with right sides together, sew them 1/4" from the edge, around the arc, keeping the straight edge open ... like so ...
... repeat with the other cap, them turn them right side out and iron them flat.

5.  Set your machine stitch to the longest length, and stitch across the straight edge of each cap (1/8" from the edge), remembering not to backstitch at the beginning or end of your row.  Then you can pull EITHER the top or bottom thread to gather the little frilly sleeve up a bit.  You can then knot the ends of the threads to hold the gathers in place.  This is what you should have at this point ... 

6.  Take one of your strap pieces and lay it right side up on the table.  Place a frilly cap on top, half way along, and with raw edges meeting on one side of the rectangle like so...

Then fold the strap in half long ways, right sides together, so you are encasing the frilly cap.  You will need to pin it to keep it all together ...

7. Sew along the long edge of the strap using a 1/4" seam, leaving the two ends of the tube open for turning, and repeat for the other strap.  You will have two tubes like this ....
Attach a safety pin to one end of the tube (just through one layer of fabric), and thread it back through the tube, pulling the tube through itself to turn it right-side out.  Repeat with the other tube, and you will have two straps with frilly cap-sleeves like so!  Give them a good press with the iron.

8.  Now, take your completed straps, and your 2 front band pieces.  Lay down one band piece (right side up), and place the two straps on top, then sandwich with the other band piece.  Make make sure your frilly cap sleeves are pointing outwards, and place the edge of the strap about 1/2" in from the corner you snipped ... like so ...
Sew along the top angled and straight edges, using 1/4" seam allowance, and making sure you catch the straps in your row of stitching.  I actually backstitched over each strap for extra strength as well.  Then flip your band right sides out and iron flat.

9.  Now take your back band pieces and as with the front, sandwich the straps between the band pieces like so ...
...then sew along the angles and top sides, then down the straight centre line as well.  Flip the band right-side out and iron flat, and now hopefully you've got something that looks like this ...

10. Fold your straps in half, so your front a back bands lay on top of each other like so ... 
... then separate the two layers of one side seam of the front band and open it flat, and do the same with the back band pieces at the same side.  Place the flattened out front right sides together with the flattened back and pin together like so ...

... Sew down the side seam with a 1/4" seam.  Repeat for the other side-seam.

Now your bodicey-type section is completed, and you can iron your side-seams to make everything look all professional.   I love doing bodice side-seams this way, 'cause there are no raw edges or even overlocked edges showing, and it's just such a neat and tidy method.  I've made a few outfits from other tutorials and some online patterns that use this method, and I think it's genius!

11. Now, moving on to the skirt section.  Take your munchkins chest measurement.  This will be the width of your front and back skirt pieces ... so when it' all sewn together it will measure twice as wide as the chest section.  This is to give some fullness to the skirt piece.  You also need to decide how long you want the little dress/top to be.  As a dress, I think it looks cute when it's a little below the knee.  So cute!!

So, cut two skirt pieces measuring chest measurement x length.  Don't worry about adding any extra to the length for seam allowance as the frilly row at the bottom of the dress will add an extra inch or so to the length.

Also cut a small rectangle of fabric that is 3" x 4" and overlock (serge) around all 4 sides of this rectangle.  Mark the centre line of this small piece on the wrong side by drawing a pencil line down the middle like so....

12. Take one of your skirt pieces.  Measure along the top edge, and mark the midpoint.  Match up this mark with your pencil line on your small rectangle, and lining up the top edges, pin the small rectangle to the midpoint of your skirt piece and place a pin 1" from the bottom of the small rectangle like so.

13.  Starting at the top of the pencil line, sew down the small rectangle (joining it to the skirt piece) 1/8" to the left of the line.  When you reach the pin marking, drop your needle, lifting the foot of your machine and pivot the corner turning towards the line, and sew along until you reach 1/8" from the line on the other side (it will only be 3-4 stitches).  Then lower the needle and pivot again to travel up the other side of the line, 1/8" from it.  Then very carefully and maybe even while holding your breath (if you get nervous with this kind of thing as I do) grab your fabric scissors and cut down the line from the top to just above your horizontal line of stitches.  It's also helpful to VERY carefully cut a diagonal line from the bottom of your cut to as close as possible to the pivot corner on each size of the line.  Be really carful not to cut your stitching.  It should look something like this....

... then when you flip the rectangle to the other side, and press each seam well, it will look like this ...
This is now the back of the skirt, and the slit serves to give a little extra room for getting the dress/top over your munchkin's head.  Again, a design I've used a few times in other people's patterns / tutorials and one that I think is genius.  

14.  Take your front and back skirt pieces, place them right-sides-together and sew down both side seams using a 1/4" seam.  Overlock (serge) the seams.

15.  Adjust your stitch length to the longest setting and sew a row of stitching 1/4" from the top edge of your skirt.  Remember not to backstitch, so you can pull either the top or bottom thread to gather the skirt to the same size as the bodice.  Shift the gathers around until they're nice and even all the way around.
16. Tip the bodice upside-down and insert it into the skirt, so that the raw edges of skirt and bodice are matched up, with right sides together.  Be sure to have the back of the bodice at the back of the skirt.  Pin them together thoroughouly.  I found it helpful to pin the centre back of the bodie to the centre back of the skirt firstly on both sides, then pin both side seams, matching them up, then pinning in regular intervals all the way around in between.  Take your time with this part, and shift the gathers as required to make it a good fit.  It will look much nicer in the long-run if you take it slowly.  Believe me....I love to rush these parts, but I've learned the hard way that there are just some parts where time (and pins) cannot be skimped on.  So, go ahead and sew all the way around, starting at the mid-back point.  Use a 1/2" seam allowance this time, then overlock (serge) this seam.

17. Turn the dress through and give the waist a good press with iron.  When ironing, press the seam towards the bodice.  Then, from the right-side, sew a top stitch row along the edge of the bodice (about 1/8" from the seam), catching the seam inside so that it's attached to the bodice.  This just makes it look a little more finished, and stops the seam from tickling your munchkin's chest while she wears it.

18.  OK, at this point, if you've decided on a top, just turn the hemline up 1/4", then another 1/2" and stitch it around the hem and you're done... well apart from adding your back buttons and button-holes.

If you're  making a dress, it's time to do your bottom frill.  Cut a length of fabric 3 x chest measurement by 2 1/2".  So Hannah's was 19x3 = 57" long.  If your fabric is not wide enough for this, just cut 2 or even 3 strips and join them together to get the correct length.

19.  Turn the bottom long edge of your strip up 1/4", then another 1/4".  Pin and sew to sew to hem the frill ... it's definitely much easier to do this before attaching it to the dress.
20.  Then, in exactly the same way as you did to attach the bodice to the skirt, sew a gathering stitch along the raw edge (1/8" from the edge), and pull either the bottom or top thread to gather the frill to the same width as the skirt, then pin it in place around the skirt.  Sew around using a 1/4" seam allowance and overlock (serge) the seam.

21.  Flip the dress right-side out and iron the seam well.  As before, topstitch around the skirt, 1/8" from the seam, but catching the seam allowance to attach it to the skirt.
22.  Last step ... decide on button/s and attach to one of the back bodice pieces.  Use your sewing machine to add buttonhole/s accordingly, or if you're a little afraid of buttonholes, you could simply use a small piece of ribbon and make a button loop.

And you're done!!  Pretty cute, huh! But, I have to admit ... my favourite is Hannah's little pink number.  It's just so summery and fun!

Oh, and do you like the little flower embellishment on Bethany's ... I just added that as an afterthought as I felt this just broke up that fabric a little and was a cute little feature.  I'm planning on making a mini-tutorial for that flower, so stay tuned!

Anyway, as always I'd love to know if you have a go at this or any of my tutorials, and even more I'd love some pics so I can have a sticky-beak.  I might even include your beautiful creations in a post some time about my lovely creative readers!!  Feel free to email me ... any time!

Make It and Love It

Friday 7 March 2014

Brown Paper Packages - and a HAPPY SALE

So, as some of you know I started a little Etsy shop a couple of months ago ... hoping that I might be able to fund my fabric/crafting addiction a little. I've made a few sales so far, and here's what those lovely customers have received ...

I love the idea of a brown paper package tied up with string, and I'm so excited about my little cards to add that real What's-Mummy-Up-To touch.  I think I have a little too much fun wrapping and sending these little packages.  I hope the recipients have been happy with their goods so far!

Anyway, this morning I did my usual email check, had a quick browse over Facebook, and checked in on the blog ... I looked at my blog's hit numbers and thought ... "Oh, that looks a little higher than I remembered", so I had a bit more of a look and discovered that my usual daily hits had multiplied by about 7 overnight ... whoa ... something was definitely going on.  With a bit more searching, I found out that All Free Sewing has published my "Sewing Designer" profile and listed a few of my tutorials for Baby clothing and items like these little dresses ... remember them?  How exciting.  

A lovely editor had contacted me a few months ago asking if they could put my profile up, and I had provided a pic and my "About Me" blurb for them to use, and another editor asked me about linking a few more of my tutorials to their site, like these ones, but I had no idea they had gone up yet, and I definitely didn't expect such a great interest.

And that's the kind of thing that makes a blogger's day ... really, just to think someone might actually be interested in something I have to share ... how cool is that!

Anyway, to pass on the happiness, I've decided to have a little sale over at my shop this weekend.  With the extra traffic coming through the blog, there's also been extra traffic coming through the shop, so I figure why not share the happiness with all those lovely people who are interested in What Mummy's Up To, huh!?!

So, for this weekend, if you purchase something at my Etsy store, and use the Coupon Code HAPPYSALE at the checkout, you'll get 20% off the price of your item/s.  Then you'll receive a lovely brown-paper package tied up with string too.

Anyway, a big thanks to All Free Sewing for linking my tutorials, and an even bigger thanks to everyone who reads my waffling!  Have a great weekend. xx

Monday 3 March 2014

Waste Not Want Not: When a Dress is Just not Twirly Enough!

So, do you remember last autumn, when I had a case of summer envy while reading overseas blogs and seeing all the cute clothes ideas and designs for summer?  I decided I'd put all that jealous energy into getting a head-start on some summer clothing for my girls, and made a bunch of sweet little things.

Well, one of my favourite designs was this heart-back dress, the Sweetheart Dress.  I love Shannon's designs!  Anyway, Hannah has love, love loved this dress, and if given the chance to choose her clothes for the day, she often reaches straight for her "heart dress".  Bethany on the other hand, well other than this photo-shoot day for the blog post back in October, she hasn't gone near this dress.  She wears tonnes of the clothes that I've made for her, so I was pretty sure it wasn't an anti-homemade-clothes thing, and I thought she liked the fabric, seeing as she chose it and all.  Anyway, after a bit of prodding one morning when choosing an outfit to wear, she eventually owned up to the fact that she doesn't like this dress because it's not twirly enough.  Of course, it's all about the twirl-factor when you're nearly 6 isn't it!  Dah, Mummy!  

My heart sunk initially 'cause I love this dress, and in my mind I was already putting it away for about 3 years until Hannah can fit into it, but then I was struck with an idea … A TOP doesn't need to be twirly does it!?! … and this design would really look just as pretty in a top as it does in a dress … coupled with a pair of leggings, or maybe some shorts … hmmmm.  

I decided that before I acted on my plan, I'd better check with little-miss-twirl-a-lot.  I asked her if she would wear the dress if it were a top, and she excitedly said yes, and jumped up and down saying … "That would be perfect, 'cause I love the heart in the back, Mum!"  Yay … Mummy just may have done a happy dance too!

So here's what I did …

1. I lay the dress out on the table, as flat as I could, and decided on the length I wanted it then added 1/2 inch for the hem … It would probably definitely be a good idea to actually measure the wearer, but you know … I'm never that organised, and she wasn't home when I did it, so I just guessed … phew … I guessed right for once!

2.  In this case I measured from the join at the bottom of the bodice, and I decided we needed 9 inches. So I measured down from the bodice-line and using a pencil I marked the 9-inch point at several intervals across the dress.  I then just took a deep breath and started cutting, using scissors, along the dress, cutting from marking to marking until the dress was no longer a dress, but a super-cute flowy summer top.

3.  I overlocked (serged) the cut-line to stop it from fraying, then turned up a 1/2 inch hem, pinned it all around and sewed.  Ta-da … it's done.  And it really is as simple as that!

BUT …..

In true What's Mummy Up To Waste-Not-Want-Not style, I just couldn't bring myself to throw the bottom portion of the dress in the rubbish.  Instead, I just overlocked around the cut edge, and turned it down 1 inch.  

I then sewed around at about 1/8 inch from the raw edge, leaving a 1 inch gap at the end of the row of stitching.

I threaded some half-inch elastic through using a safety pin, then joined the elastic with a few zig zag stitches, then top-stitched to sew the gap closed, and ….

… now Hannah has a skirt!  Please ignore the extremely crushed top she's wearing ... I may or may not have fished it out of the laundry basket to quickly snap this pic while we had a break between super-heavy rain this afternoon!  You know how it is ...

Anyway, both girls are pretty chuffed with their new clothes, so I think that counts as a win for Mummy!  What do you think?