Friday, August 29, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Fairytale Dress Pattern

Here we are at the end of August already!  Where has the summer gone?  School may be back in  full swing, but our weather is still warm, so before moving on to fall styles next week, I have to share the Fairytale Dress with you.

This pattern was one of my first Tie Dye Diva patterns, purchased before I knew Jen personally.  I love the handkerchief hem and adjustable straps with a bow in the back.  The Fairytale Dress pattern includes sizes 12-18 months through size 5 with a bonus top length pattern for sizes 6 through 8.

Once again Sweet Pea is wearing an 18-24 month dress and yes, it is quite short on her. But, remember that bonus top length pattern?  I plan to add Sterling leggings underneath and keep wearing this one for a bit longer.  Have you noticed those leggings have made an appearance in three of the last four Year of Dresses posts? That's because they are awesome and such a great staple item!

The Fairytale dress makes this Momma happy in it's ability to adapt to all seasons too.  I  love it as a sundress, but it is equally cute layered with a Peasant Top for extra warmth.  Sweet Pea definitely wore this for professional pictures (ahem...last spring...I promise next week will be brand new) and I loved the outcome!

Here we were trying out the outfit at home.
See it's proper length?
You might have noticed my one change to this pattern. Do I ever completely follow the directions.....?   Sometimes I do, but one of the beauties of sewing is the ability to adapt to your preferences or situation.  This time I decided to omit the front laces and have a plain bodice.  Because the laces aren't necessary for dressing, just pretty, this is a super easy change to make.  When preparing your pattern simply draw a line on the bodice piece 1/2" in from the center front.  When cutting, place your front bodice piece on the fold of your fabric aligning  your newly marked line with the fold. Now you have a solid front bodice piece.  This is a great option when you're short on sewing time because you eliminate the need for buttonholes down the front.

The straps on this dress are free in the back and loop through buttonholes (or loops if you prefer). Tie them in a bow for a beautiful back view. This makes the straps fully adjustable for a wider fit range.  When layering a top underneath leave the straps a little longer to accommodate the bulk; when wearing as a sundress  pull  the straps a little shorter for a higher neckline and armholes.

I love the unique handkerchief hem on this dress. Layer fun fabrics or keep it simple as I did.  And in case you're wondering, yes, it twirls!

Halloween costumes will be coming in full force next week, I have four fabulous and diverse costumes planned for you, but I have to through out some ideas for the Fairytale dress too.  Made in red and white like this I always think of an adorable Little Red Riding Hood costume.  It also makes a cute girly witch made in green or purple and black, definitely add the front laces for that on.  Tinkerbell anyone? The Fairytale Dress has you covered.  If you are feeling adventurous experiment with costume satin and glitter chiffon.

Now for your quick pattern info:

  • Sizes 12 months - 5 with top length for sizes 6-8
  • Advanced beginner sewing level
  • Optional loops for a no buttonholes construction
  • Reverse knot back for an adjustable fit

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Butterfly Baby Top

This week I'm back with another great sewing project for the end of summer, heading into fall.  If you still need some back to school sewing this outfit will be great!  Shoulders covered, check. Playground appropriate, check.  Layer-able, check.

The Butterfly Baby Top will quickly become on of your favorite go to patterns (and the girls' Butterfly Dress too)! It is perfect for mixing fun prints and adding embellishments.  It is also very cute layered, and you know that's a big hit for me.

I've pared my top with Sterling Leggings.  If you haven't grabbed this pattern yet, do it now!  It is wonderful on every level and will be a staple in every girl closet.  Today I chose the simple, plain leggings version.  They are classic and easy.  Seriously, they sew together in half an hour!

So let's talk about the patterns.  Butterfly for Baby is a long top length with hem band, and covers little ones from 0-24 months.  The Butterfly Dress for girls, covering sizes 2-8,  is dress length and has a hem ruffle.  With a few simple adjustments though you can make a dress for babies or a tunic for girls.  Don't worry, I'll tell you how!

The Butterfly baby top is a long tunic length top.  It is great with Sterling Shorties and Leggings.  Or, if you prefer woven fabric, Pretty Pantaloons are adorable.  On little babies, I think it passes as a dress with just a Diaper Cover added.

First let's talk about adding a ruffle to the hem instead of a band.  The finished length of your ruffle should be about 1 1/2" for the smallest sizes and 2 1/2" for the largest 18-24 month size. To make a ruffle cut four strips the width indicated in the pattern and between 2 1/2" and 3 1/2" wide depending on your size.  Finish your ruffle with a narrow hem by folding under 1/4" and another 1/4" and stitching close to the edge. Gather and sew to the bottom of the skirt.  Easy Peasy!

Now, making top into a dress....
  • For sizes 0-3 and 3-6 months add 1/2" to the skirt length.  Remember how easily little ones are swallowed up in clothes...?  
  • Add 1" for 6-12 months 
  • Add 1.5" for 12-18 and 18-24 month sizes.  
Super simple!

Do you want to know how to make the girls dress into a top?  I'm going to make this very easy....  To make a tunic length top from the girl's Butterfly Dress simply cut the skirt 4" shorter than directed in the pattern.

Whew! Did you follow all that?  Great!

I did one other easy modification to this Butterfly Top.  I added 1" to the center back pattern pieces and overlapped them instead of abutting them together.  I then finished with my favorite, easy finish, KAMsnaps.

Once again, you've caught me on vacation!  Sweet Pea has worn this top since last spring.  She wore it layer with leggings then, has worn it with shorts this summer and will keep wearing it as the weather gets cooler.  It has definitely gotten shorter on her, but remember, it is a longer tunic length so there is plenty of growing room!  Did you notice those cute flutter sleeves? I love them!  So girly and sweet.

This top and dress can be made as simple or embellished as you like.  On this dress I decided to leave off the tuxedo ruffle and simply add a couple buttons to the bodice.  I love the tuxedo detail too though!  It's a great place to add a little spark of color.  Color placement can completely change the look of this sweet outfit as well.  Here is one I made with a tuxedo ruffle and a bit more color-blocking style. Completely different look, but I like it as well!

Enjoy making a Butterfly top or dress.  Actually make some of both!   Here's your pattern highlights:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Sew with a Twin / Double Needle. I hope.

Confession: I have felt like a bit of a phony for a couple of weeks now, after releasing the Sterling Shorties and Leggings pattern, the first Tie Dye Diva pattern for knit fabrics. You see, right there in the section titled "Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabric", alongside zigzag, triple stitch, stretch stitch and coverstitch, I glibly throw in "twin needle" as an option for a nice stitch to use on knits that will stretch along with the fabric.

I have never used a twin needle.

I know!! I have excuses of course. I have a coverstitch machine and I love it. Also, I have only recently started to really enjoy sewing with knit fabric. And ... OK, the 17 steps in my sewing machine manual, the forked needle, and that big prongy plastic thing kind of scared me.

No more excuses. Here I go, real time, as real time as possible on a blog, with actual photos of my actual first time using a twin needle (also known as a double needle). Fingers crossed!

I am doing this on my Brother because they are widely used, and because with 17 steps in the manual before getting to "Start sewing", how could I go wrong?

The pre-manual step 1 for me was find the twin needle and prongy thing, which now I know is also known as the extra spool pin.

In the spirit of keeping it real, here is the bin where I throw store things like extra serger cones and sewing machine accessories that scare me a little.

Don't judge.
Step 1, install the needle. Easy! If you look at the top portion you can see it's just like any regular needle, with one shank and a flat side. Insert, flat side in back. Thread the machine with the top thread going through the left side like any other needle. I'm not even going to post a picture because you know what a threaded machine looks like. Steps one and two, I conquer you!

Now, put the no-longer-scary extra spool pin on the bobbin winder shaft and swing the pin around so the spool will be parallel to your top thread spool. This part varies by machine, some machines just have you stand the second thread upright on a pin. Put the spool on - important part coming up - with the thread coming from the top of the spool. This is because your regular top thread spool unwinds from the bottom, and you want them unwinding in different directions. Put the spool cap on.

My two gray threads don't match, and that bothers me. If I had planned ahead, I might have wound a matching bobbin and put it on the extra spool pin. But I promised real time, so my threads don't match.

Step 7 already! Thread the machine with your extra spool thread just as you did the regular top thread EXCEPT, skip the needle bar thread hook (not sure why, going to just follow this one like a sheep though. Baa.) and thread the end through the right needle. You can see the needle bar hook just above the green part of the double needle, with left thread beneath it and right thread bypassing it. On some machines (the Brother manual does not mention it) you'll want to be sure the two threads go one to the left and one to the right of the tension disk.

Already had the correct ("J") foot on the machine so onward to Step 10: Turn the machine on.

nailed it!
Computerized machines will vary, but I followed the instructions in the manual for scrolling through options and finding the machine's twin needle setting, which looks like two little needles, and you can see it in the lower left of my screen. For a non-computerized machine, you'd just use center needle position, and stitch width and length as recommended by your machine's manual and pattern.

Momentary panic set in when I looked at the stitches shown in the manual and they were all decorative and though lovely, I just wanted straight stitch.

Then in dawned on me.

Just sew a straight stitch.

I chose my sweet and familiar friend straight stitch, lengthened it just a little, and  - deep breath - began to sew on my real and actual project.

A little wavy but not too bad.

 After pressing, much better (left). And a great little stretchy lightning bolt on the reverse (right).

For the next row of twin stitches (horizontal in the photo), I troubleshot the waviness by reducing the pressure of the presser foot just a touch, and I also used a little piece of stabilizer when I started the row of stitching.

Zee's Tee, pattern releasing Friday!
I might like to tinker with it a bit more, but the point of all of this is, it's ridiculously easy and nothing to be afraid of. Get out your own prongy thing and give it a try! I have long said, if you can sew a straight line, you can shir; now I will add, and you can use a twin needle.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bundle Up - Sewing for Boys style!

Have you seen the 12 fabulous NEW designs coming in the Bundle UP Boy's Sale? Tie Dye Diva is excited to be a part of this great collective once again, and I had so much fun designing my pattern, Zee's Tee!

It's an easy to sew knit tee shirt pattern styled just for boys - with a loose but never sloppy fit, little bit of a dropped shoulder, and pocket, contrast yoke, or colorblocked design option. I have caught the 'upcycle' fever myself and have been cutting up all of our outgrown tees into brand new ones in the next size up. Such quick sews, and so gratifying!

The Zee's Tee pattern includes tips for sewing with knit, and a page of helpful hints for upcycling existing tees. With long and short sleeve options, you can keep it at the top of your stack all year. 

We Bundle Up designers listened well to boy mamas and their requests for fashionable patterns with lots of options. They will be available for sale next week HERE, but until then you have the opportunity to win them before you can buy them. Sweet! Enter at the bottom of this post.

Coming Aug 22-29 at

Coming Aug 22-29 at

Coming Aug 22-29 at

 Coming Aug 22-29 at

Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Baby's Party Dress

Okay, you've caught me!  It's true I didn't actually sew this dress this week..., but I'm on vacation.  So instead of missing a week in A Year of  Dresses I pulled out a dress I made this spring but hadn't shown you.  Without further ado, I bring you Baby's Party Dress,

Did you know Tie Dye Diva is on Instagram?  Come follow  us and we will follow you back!  We share lots of current projects and some fun behind the scenes pictures as well as some non sewing related family fun.

Okay, now really, without further ado.... Baby's Party Dress is, well, for babies  in sizes 0 - 24 months.  It features vintage styled, short puffed sleeves; a gathered skirt; classic button back bodice; and sash with decorative bow.  This dress is one of those classic beauties that never gets old!  Do you get yet that I love it?

A quick disclaimer: because I made this dress last spring, it is actually getting quite short on Sweet Pea (that makes it even more vintage looking right?).  The dress really is designed to fall at the knee.

What can I say about this dress other than that it is a classic beauty!  I love the 60's style sleeves.  Don't let those adorable sleeves intimidate you.  Though they are small, you can trust that Jen's excellent instructions and color photos walk you through each step of the way, and you can count on a professional looking outcome.

I changed the bow just a touch on this dress from that given in the pattern just to change it up a bit (though I really like the one in the pattern better).  I made this bow using the faux bow method described in Jen's Removable Fabric Bow post.  To do this I cut the bow tail piece from Baby's Party Dress 4-6" longer than instructed and tied following Jen's instructions in the bow post.

I finished this dress with KAM Snaps instead of buttons also.  While I think buttons are better suited on this dress most of the time.  I am happy with the results.  In reality, I didn't have any appropriate buttons on hand so I pulled out the snaps instead.  I like the look of classic white with the navy pin-dot print though.  And really, does it get any easier than snaps?  I love how fast and easy they are, definitely a time saver!

While this dress is obviously suited to so many baby dress up occasions, weddings, holiday, baptisms, etc., I love seeing Sweet Pea play hard in her dresses wear them for everyday as well.  With that, I'm going to let the cuteness take you away (as the ship is taking me...)!

This face!
"How about pictures over here Mom.  |Let me move the chair for you."
Please do pin your favorite picture to Pinterest for all to see and follow Tie Dye Diva too.  It is a super easy way to have quick links to all your favorite blog posts (like this one!).

Here's your quick pattern rundown:

  • Five sizes covering 0-24 months
  • Intermediate sewing level due to sleeve 
  • Optional fully enclosed waist seam for a smooth inside finish
  • Knee length skirt is easily lenghtened or shortened as needed