Friday, July 8, 2011

Why I am so excited this actually worked out.

I make no secret of the fact that I am no sewer.  I bungle things up much more than not.  The issue, I believe, is impatience.  With myself (as far as learning techniques correctly the first time, taking the time to research, using a tutorial as I go instead of trying from memory) and with the process (a hobby that involves a chore - such as ironing seams - is no hobby.)  

And so, it should be no surprise that I am elated with the outcome of this little two-piece romper.

This may be the first time EVER in HISTORY that something I've sewn turned out almost EXACTLY as envisioned in the planning stages.  That's saying a lot.

I'm still no sewer.  And this is still pretty basic stuff, I know that.  But it's basic stuff I'm proud of and I would like to defend my position.  Therefore, I present the proof.

Exhibit A.  First thing I ever sewed on my machine.  

It's a boy's t-shirt turned into a baby dress.  Yes.  This IS on my blog.  This is why I hope people don't go reading the initial posts I published... or maybe I DO hope they WILL so that they can be impressed with my improvement.  (And can you believe mini was ever that small??)

Exhibit B.  First thing I ever tried to "pattern" first and then sew.

Notice I used a SHARPIE to draw the pieces, and that I drew on the RIGHT side of the fabric.  Not that it would have mattered, because IT WAS A SHARPIE.  This is on my blog too. (and those leggings were knee socks!  I still think that was a cute idea...)

Exhibit C.  One of my most dismal failures EVER.  Sewn after I saw Disney's tutorial, but I was NOT reading the tutorial AS I sewed.  

Depressingly, several people raved about how easy this hat was to make.  I like to call my version "The Pancake Hat."  And fortunately I can laugh about it now.  Kind of.  Oh, this is on my blog too.  

Did you realize so many dismal failures were on my blog?  Remember, if I can craft (sew) anyone can.

And this brings me to the present day, and my last evidential entry:
Exhibit "It not only resembles clothing but actually fits the person it was intended for":

And, obviously, it was easy.  Here's how I did it.

First of all, you'll need a pair of shorts that are the approximate size you need.  Now, the width is going to be totally different because you want your shorts to gather at the waist and at the legs.  So, measure the width of the sample shorts and double it.  Then, fold your fabric in half.  Fold your shorts in half.  Instead of laying your shorts with the straight side against the fold, measure out the doubled width from the fold and lay your shorts there.  

Trace around the other side of the shorts, then draw a straight line across the bottom of the legs and across the top of the shorts leaving some space for seam allowance.

Flip your shorts and fold your fabric again, repeat this process.

Cut both traced pieces out.

Iron your pieces.  Fold up the bottom once and iron this fold.

Now, on the bottom of the folded side (or what would be the outside seam had we not folded the fabric) of the legs, cut out a little quarter-circle shape.

Here is what ONE leg looks like when the piece is cut and ironed, before you begin sewing:

Run two basting stitches along the bottom of both leg pieces.  Set your length to the longest setting, and use the presser foot as a guide for the first row.  Then sew a second row just above that.  Do this on both leg pieces - on both sides of that curve you cut out of the side.
Now, gather all your gathering stitches.  Make sure to gather to the right width by using the sample pair of shorts as a guide.  You don't want your leg holes to be too tight.

Once all the threads are gathered to the right width, you'll need to finish off that curve.  I used biased tape.  For the record, yellow was not my first choice, I wanted that aqua color.  BUT I did NOT want to go to the store, and I'm trying hard to only use my stash right now, so this was the tape I went with.  And actually now I really love it.  That exciting pop of summery color!  It makes this outfit not solely fourth of July appropriate, I think.  ANYWAY...

Just hold your biased tape around the curve to measure how much you'll need.  Cut two lengths and sandwich the fabric in the middle of the bias tape.  Pin all along.  Use a straight stitch to sew it on.  Don't worry about finishing off the ends of the tape because they'll be covered.

Now, you need to hem the bottom, right?  WRONG!   I hate hemming - you probably know that.  

So, run your bias tape along the bottom edges - you will need FOUR separate pieces; two for each leg piece (one on either side of the curve in the side).  Add about three inches to each piece.  Cut your bias tape to size.  Fold one short end over and sew it to the back (or inside) side on each of the four pieces.  

Position the bias tape so the end that is NOT sewn to the back side is lined up with what will be the inside seam of the legs.  Sandwich the fabric between the bias tape and pin.  You should have tails sticking out by the curve in the outside of the legs. 

Sew with a straight stitch.  When you reach the end of the fabric - and you still have that bit of tail hanging off - continue sewing so that you are sewing the bias tape together.  The ends will be finished off because you already sewed the ends to the back of the bias tape earlier.  Now you have these little tails that you can use to tie a bow or knot.

Line the front seams up - right sides together - and pin.  Sew with a straight stitch.

Line your back seams up - right sides together - and pin.  Sew with a straight stitch.

Make sure to finish edges with a zig zag stitch (something I NEVER would have done a year and a half ago!) and cut off excess fabric.

Iron down the top on both pieces.

Run two gathering stitches along the top of both pieces - same method as before.

Gather these stitches.  Again, make sure to gather to the right width by using the sample pair of shorts as a guide.  You don't want your waist to be too tight.

Run your bias tape along the top of the shorts to measure.  Cut to size.  Sandwich the top of the fabric in the middle of the bias tape and pin.  

When you sew this, you will want to leave a small opening in the bottom of the bias tape right after the front seam.  You are using the bias tape to create a casing for the elastic.  This one or two inch opening is where you will feed the elastic in.  So, as you pin the bias tape to the fabric, place two pins on either side of this opening.  This will be a visual reminder as you sew that you need to start and stop there.

Sew the bias tape on with a straight stitch.

Now, I wish I'd had slightly smaller elastic or slightly larger bias tape, because it would have been really easy to make this into a paper bag top.  As it was, I still wanted to try to create a bit of that look, so here is what I did:

Use a straight stitch to sew around the top of the bias tape waist band - about 1/4 of an inch-ish in from the top.  If you make this stitch far enough down, this would be enough to give you the paper bag look after you add the elastic.  But mine is, shall we say, SUBTLE.

Measure your elastic to the size of your child's waist plus 2 inches.  Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through the opening in the bias tape waistband and out the other side.  Sew the ends of the elastic together with a zig zag stitch - two rows for extra hold.  Sew up the opening in the bias tape.

Measure out about four inches of bias tape and sew the ends to the back.  Fold along the fold and sew the bias tape together all the way around with a straight stitch.  

Tie this little rectangle thingy in a knot and hand stitch it to the front of the shorts by the seam.

Shorts are done!

The top is ridiculously easy.  Measure around your child's chest and cut a rectangle of fabric that is that wide.  The length is up to you, but I made mine so that it was just to her waist, so you could still see the cute details of the top of the shorts.  Cut this rectangle out.  Cut two pieces of bias tape to the same width as the rectangle.  Sandwich the top of the rectangle in one of the pieces and pin.  Sew the bias tape on with a straight stitch.  Repeat this with the bottom.  

Fold the rectangle in half with right sides together.  Pin the ends together and sew with a straight stitch, finish with a zig zag stitch.  Cut off any excess fabric.

Cut four pieces of bias tape of equal length.  These will be the shoulder straps and you need to make them long enough to tie in a bow over the shoulder.  Each of mine were probably about 12 inches long.  Finish off the bias tape by sewing the ends to the back side of the tape, then folding on the fold and sewing the tape together.  

Then pin the straps in place (I laid my rectangle on top of a shirt and just pinned the straps to the inside of the rectangle where the shoulders of the shirt were.)

Sew the straps in place with a straight stitch.

If you want a fun little detail, you can cut a small piece of bias tape and finish it off (sewing-wise, not mafia-wise) then tie it in a knot and hand stitch it to the front of the shirt somewhere.  I chose to place mine right by one of the straps.

And that's it!  You're done!  

I love it on her cute little skinny mini body.


Now that is a far cry from my first sewing post, wouldn't you say?

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!


kellystar said...

I am SO impressed...I have had some odd shaped sewing results myself. I don't know if I'm ready for an outfit yet...still working on straight curtains and Harry Potter capes...maybe someday

Tawny said...

Precious! Congrats on getting it to turn out exactly how you envisioned too. I've been sewing for years and sometimes... eeesh... things still don't turn out how they are in my head.

Well done! :D

Ben and Kari said...

Kim you are so funny! I don't know if this makes you feel any better or not but I use a sharpie when I sew. I just use a yellow one. Love ya!

Julia said...

Adorable! Your progression is impressive!!!

Simply Smith said...

great job! That outfit is adorable, but those pigtails are to die for! :D


Delia said...

This is adorable Kimberly! I can totally relate to your sewing progression. I have projects on my blog that I am sooo tempted to delete. But I need to remember to appreciate my growth and not so much my weaknesses. Thanks for the inspiration!

Lynne said...

Very cute! Love your fabric selection. Perfect little outfit for summer!

Veronika said...

This is TOO cute!! And mini is getting *so* big!

Unknown said...

adorable! you HAVE come a long way--those, ahem..."attempts" had me cracking up!
mini looks too too cute!!

AmyH said...

Darling! I'm featuring you tomorrow at

Jan said...

Dear one, I happened on your blog via craftgossip. I've been reading your sewing posts and just laughing my head off. You are doing everything exactly right! Before long, you will be a sewing wizard. Just keep it up! P.S. I'm 54 yrs. old and always describe my early sewing efforts as "wadders" (meaning, I would look at it awhile, then wad it up and throw it away!) Now, I can make stuff that you wouldn't believe. It's the journey that counts. You will look back again next year and be so proud of your improvements. Enjoy.

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