Saturday, 16 August 2014

Free Pattern and Tutorial: Lacey-Love Sweater

Have you ever had a design in your mind  ... like forever ... and just never got round to working on it?  Well, that's what I have for you today.  I first dabbled with this design last winter when I made a cute little sweater for Hannah to match her mustard-colour Sweat-Pant Leggings It turned out to be a little big on her, so I put it away until this year, and she's worn it heaps ... here she is wearing it with her Disco Diva Pants.

In my mind, I loved this as a super-quick, very easy, two-pattern-piece type sweater, with the little bat-wing feature to just give it something different while also helping with the snuggly-warmness of it.  I envisioned it being a super-snuggly, pull-it-on-after-school-on-those-freezing-winter's-days type sweater.  And I'd also been pondering about lengthening it a bit to make it into a dress.

And a couple of weekends ago, I finally got around to it.  I stole borrowed some cute pink and blue fleece from my Mum's stash (shhh, she was away on holidays at the time ... don't tell her ... I bet she won't notice!)  She even had some matching rib for the neckline, sleeves and waist.  Seriously, my Mum's stash is SOMETHING ELSE ... 

Then I got to work ... and here's what I came up with...
A blue sweater for Bethany ... perfect for playing in the yard on those cold wintery afternoons at our place.  I like how the loose bat-wing arm-pit section and the tighter forearm features turned out.  Nice for a change from your usual fleece sweater style I reckon.
... And great for swinging too I'm told!

I added the little heart feature with some cotton lace I had lying around on the table next to my sewing machine ... it just seemed like the thing to do at the time, and I like the pretty little feature on what would otherwise be a very plain sweater...hence, the Lacey-Love Sweater.

Then I got started on a dress version for Hannah.  I left the rib off the bottom to make it look more dress-like, and basically just lengthened the pattern by about 8 inches to turn the sweater into a dress. She was stoked (any chance to wear a dress and her beloved boots is a win for Hannah this year!)
And she thinks this dress is great for balancing ...
... And even a little dance ... She is so hilarious at the moment!
We might have had just a tiny bit of fun with this shoot outside one afternoon just before the rain came.

Anyway, I snapped some tutorial pics and have finally got around to putting it together to share with you.  I've also added a VERY ... read VERY ... rough PDF pattern.  This is the first time I've done a PDF pattern.  It's nothing fancy (just hand-drawn) and only in approximate size 3 and approximate size 7 (the sizes I made for my girls), but if you happen to be sewing for a munchkin in those sizes, go ahead and take a shortcut by using the ready-made patterns.  Just remember to print them off at 100% size and check the 1-inch measurement box I added to make sure they've printed off full size before you cut.  I've totally made clothes too small because I didn't print them off at full size!

If you want a different size, don't stress, I've included steps in my tutorial below for how to make your own pattern for this little sweater.

Here's what you need:
- Patterns for Size 3 or Size 7, or some tracing paper, a top that fits and a pencil to make your own pattern
- Fleece or knit fabric (whatever weight you want!) - About 1 metre / yard was enough for these ones/
- Coordinating rib fabric for the neckline, sleeves and waist (just a small amount)
- Coordinating cotton
- A length of lace, or ribbon, or ric-rac, or other trim for the heart embellishment.  
- Your usual sewing machine, overlocker / serger (if you have one), scissors, pins

So, let's get started:
1.  If you're making size 3 or size 7 print off your pattern and piece together then cut out.  I've numbered the pages to try to make it a bit simpler to work out.  It should look something like this once it's all together:
You can then skip down to step 3 below.

2.  If you're making your own pattern .... here's how to do it.  Grab a long sleeve top that fits.  Fold it in half with the back facing out.  Lay it on a piece of tracing paper like so, and using a pencil draw along the fold, along the bottom, and about half way up the other side. 

Then arc your line out to create the bat-sleeve, and joint in to the sleeve again about half-way along.  Continue across the wrist of the sleeve.  Finally, grab a ruler and draw a straight line between the neckline and the bottom of the sleeve.  Then go around again with a marker, making sure you have left a 1/2 gap between the shirt, and your line to allow for seam allowance.  Also trace around the neckline.
 You should end up with something that looks like this ... Just draw a slight lower arc at the neckline to allow for the front neckline to be a little lower.

3.  Take your fabric and fold it in half length-ways, then place the straight edge of your pattern along that fold and pin the pattern down to the fabric to hold it still.  Carefully cut around the pattern (you'll be cutting through two layers of fabric).  This will be the back piece. 

Remove the pins and on your pattern piece, cut along the line that you drew for the front neckline, then go through the same process of folding the fabric, placing your pattern and cutting around to get your front piece.

4. I find it easier to do any embellishments like our heart, before sewing the sweater together.  So, take your front piece, and place it flat.  Grab a piece of paper and trace, freehand or (if you're lazy like me) free-cut a heart shape.  Place the heart shape on your front piece and draw around it with a pencil, chalk or even a pen (if your lace is thick enough that the pen won't show through later).
Like so ...

5.  Grab your lace / ric-rac / ribbon, and carefully sew it on top of your heart shape.  I started at the bottom point of the heart, and just folded the end of the lace under to conceal the raw edge.  Set your sewing machine to a small zig-zag, then gently "encourage" the lace to bend around the curves as you sew.
When you get back to your starting point, cut the lace off, leaving just enough to turn the raw end under and overlap your starting point slightly.

6.  Place your front and back pieces right-sides-together and sew down the arm seam, from the neckline to the end of the sleeve.  If you have an overlocker / serger you can finish off the seams.  If not, don't worry as fleece and knits don't fray much anyway!
7.  Next, go ahead and sew the sides together, starting at the bottom and sewing up and around the bat wing to the end of the sleeve.  Again finish the edges off if you have an overlocker/serger.
8.  Now for the waistband.  Measure along your waistband.  Bethany's was 16" wide.  Multiply this by 2, and add 1/2 inch.  So for Bethany, I used a length of  33".
Cut your rib this length (33") by 4".
Then fold the length in half and sew down the short side to make a tube.  Fold the tube over on itself, concealing the seam like so.
Place the tube around the waistband like so, matching the raw edge and pin to hold in place, then sew around the edge using a 1/2" seam allowance and finish the raw edges.  You shouldn't have to stretch as you sew too much, as I made the waistband about the same size as the sweater for a looser/comfier fit.

9. Measure along the back of your neckline like so.  Bethany's was 7 1/2".  Double this figure (15").
 Cut a piece of rib that is this measurement (15") by 3" ...
...then repeat the process as with the waistband above.  You will need to stretch the rib a little as you sew it to make it fit, as the rib will be slightly smaller than your neckline.  This just makes the neckline a little more fitted, but still able to get over your munchkin's head.

Once you've sewn the rib in, sew a top stitch around the neckline, which secures the seam allowance on the inside to make if face downwards.  I think the neckline just looks a little neater and feels a little comfier this way!

10.  And finally, for the sleeves ... measure the sleeve width (Bethany's was 3").  Double this (6").
Cut you rib pieces this length (6") by 4" and repeat the process as with the waist band and neckline above.  I don't bother with the top-stitching for the sleeves, as it can be mightly hard to sew around a fiddly little sleeve.

Oh, and if you want to make a dress instead, just measure your munchkin from hip to knee, and add that much to your pattern piece, adding an extra inch for hemming.
I hope you enjoyed this one.  I had so much fun finally getting to this project, and also had a ball figuring out how to do a PDF pattern.  It was fun ... I might even do more of them!!

Oh, and remember if you do make one of these sweaters, please let me know and send me a pic.  It absolutely makes my day when I see what you've made!!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Waste Not Want Not: Bubble Dresses (from Onesies)

So, Hannah's toilet-trained ... and sleeping in a big-girl bed, and in the big-kid class at swimming lessons (you know, the one where the Mums are relegated to the seats at the side of the pool instead of being in the pool with their babies)!  Where has my baby gone?  I've shed a couple of tears I must admit, but she's so enjoying being a big-girl.  I guess her joy and excitement will take the edge off this Mummy's broken heart, and of course I'm constantly thankful for the blessing of healthy, happy, growing munchkins!

Anyway, with growing up also comes a lack of need for baby things like onesies.  I mean, it really is a little unfair to expect this 2 1/2 year old to get herself out of a onesie in time to make it to the toilet ... and she does insist on taking herself to the toilet ... "I do it myself Mummy ... you stay out!" *sobs*  So those size 2 onesies I bought on sale last year, ready for this winter are absolutely no use to us at all now ... and they're brand new.  Time for a waste-not-want-not project me-thinks!
I've wanted to have a go at a bubble dress for ages and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I found some cute knit fabrics I've had stashed since I bought them on sale, and seeing as they're a little warmer than a light cotton poplin or something I thought they would also work for our winter weather.
Now, I know there are other ways to do bubble dresses, but this was a nap-time project for me and I was really happy with the super-quick way these came together.  I got both of these little dresses done in a couple of hours from beginning to end.  Not bad, huh! (Oh, and pay no attention to the super-crushed-ness of these dresses in the photos.  They've been worn and washed a number of times by now, and these were taken straight off the line for photos ... you now how it is!
The best part of this project (as with any other sewing for my kids) is that Hannah ... who is an absolute dress fan at the moment ... loves her "cloud dress" and her "strawberry dress" and loves to "twirl" in them.  She's mid-twirl in the pic above.  

The cloud dress is a little shorter, and not quite as drop-waisted because this onesie was a slightly smaller make than the other. I embellsihed this one with a little bow made from the same fabric as the skirt.  I thin it's a cute touch ... debating making a matching bow for a hair clip!!  The strawberry dress is a little longer and I'm hoping we might get next year out of it as well, or at least the cooler spring-time days ... I can always hope, huh!  I embellished this one with a simple applique of a strawberry cut out from a fabric off-cut.  I think the strawberry dress is my favourite!

So, wanna know how I did it?  Play along if you'd like!  It's a really simple one ... promise!

You'll Need:
- A onesie ... that fits, or even if it's a little short it will be OK.  This would be a great way to recycle a onesie that's been outgrown length-wise, especially if it's a short-sleeve / singlet version.
- Some knit-fabric (though I reckon a woven fabric would work just as well if that's what you have on hand).  For Hannah's (size 2) dresses I used about 1/2 - 3/4 metre of knit fabric.
- The usual sewing machine, serger (if you have one), scissors or rotary cutter, coordinating thread etc.

Let's get to it:

1. Grab your onesie and lay it flat.  Draw a line across to mark your cutting line (or if you're clever lazy like me, you can just free-hand the cut) then cut the clip-section of the onesie off just at the top of the leg-hole edging.

2.  Measure the width of your cut edge to help you calculate how wide to make your skirt pieces. 

3. Calculate the size of the skirt pieces as follows: Width: Double your onesie measurement from step 2.  So, Hannah's onesie was 10" wide, so I cut the skirt pieces 20" wide.  Length: Your preferred length plus 1 inch (for seam allowance), then doubled.  So Hannah's finished skirt length was  9", so I cut the length at 20" (9+1, doubled). 

4. Cut your skirt pieces (Hannah's were 20" x 20" as calculated above in Step 3).  You need 2 skirt pieces ... a front and a back.  Then place the pieces right sides together and sew down each side (using a 1/4" seam) to make a tube like so... 

5. Fold the tube up onto itself (kind of like you've half turned it through the right way), so you have a fold at the bottom, and the two raw edges together at the top.  This also encloses the side seams, so there's no need to finish those seams ... they'll never be seen again!

6. Set your sewing machine's stitch length to the longest (on my machine it's number 6), and sew a gathering stitch 1/4" from the raw edges all around the top of the skirt.  This will also join the two layers of skirt together all around the top seam.  Remember not to back stitch at the start of end of the round, and to leave nice long threads for gathering with.

7.  Lay your skirt alongside your onesie with the 2 raw edges near each other, then pull EITHER the top or bottom thread from your gathering stitch.  This will gather the skirt fabric.  Pull gently because you don't want the thread to break, and just gently move the gathers around until the skirt is the same width as the onesie, then tie off your threads to stop it un-gathering.  It can be helpful to give your gathers a little iron at this point to help set them a bit more, but I find knit fabric to be quite forgiving with gathering generally so I didn't bother this time.

8.  Now flip your onesie upside down, and insert it into the skirt so that your raw gathered skirt edge and the raw onesie edge match up.  Match the skirt side seams with the onesie side-seams and pin into place, then pin the front and back of the skirt to the front and back of the onesie at regular intervals to keep them well secured while sewing.  Remember, if you're using a directional fabric (like my strawberry one), you'll need to make sure you're joining them correctly so that the outside of the skirt will be right-way up in the end.  I would suggest turning your dress right-side-out after you've pinned the pieces together, just to check you've got them right before you sew.

9.  Sew, using a 1/2" seam around the pinned edge, joining the skirt to the onsie.  If you have one, you ca then use your overlocker (serger) to finish the edge.  If not, it won't matter,as knit fabric doesn't fray, so you'll be all good!

10.  Then turn your little dress right-side-out.  Push the waist seam (on the inside) up towards the onesie, then sew a topstitch 1/8" above the waist seam, which will secure your seam upwards, and make it sit flatter ... plus I just love top-stitching ... it's fun, right!

OK, so your little bubble dress is done ... it was easy wasn't it, and so quick!  Now you can just stop there and rush off to try your creation on your excited little munchkin, or you can take it one step further and join me for some embellishing.  The strawberry dress is just a simple applique (using a small zig-zag stitch around the edge) of a strawberry I cut from an off-cut of the skirt fabric.  Simple enough, but effective all the same, huh!  For the cloud dress, I made a little bow.  Here's what I did:

1. Cut a 4 1/2" square of coordinating fabric.

2.  Fold it in half (right sides together) and sew down the long raw edge.  Turn the tube right-side-out and iron flat, with the seam centred to one side (this will be the back).  Then tuck the ends in 1/4" and topstitch closed as close to the edge as possible (about 1/8" is OK).

3. Cut a 2" square of coordinating fabric.

4.  Fold this in half, right-sides together, sew down the long raw edge and turn it through to bring the right side out.  Iron the little tube flat, with the seam centred on one side.

5.  Pinch the middle of your larger tube in the middle to make a bow shape, then take your smaller tube and wrap it around to secure the shape.  Tuck one end of the small tube into the other, then push all the raw edges under if you can.  It's a little fiddly, but don't worry too much, as it will be on the back, and noone will see!  You'll need to pin it in place once your happy, then grab a needle and thread and sew the ends of the small tube together.  Once again, it doesn't have to be neat (as it's on the back) it just has to be effective!

Ta-Da!  A bow.  I'm thinking about making a couple more of these and gluing them to hair clips ... what do you think?

6.  And you could, of course, attach it wherever you want to on your dress.  I thought about placing it off-centre at the waist seam, but in the end I opted for putting it off-centre on the upper-chest.  

To attach it, I simply pinned it in place, then sewed directly on top of the top-stitching at each end of the bow.  Be sure to back stitch at the ends of each stitch-line to make sure it doesn't work it's way loose over time and in the wash.

And there you have it ... a couple of very cheap, very cute, very quick dresses for my rapidly growing-up  baby.

Coupled with a little pair of boots and some tights, this munchkin's is a happy big-girl indeed!