Friday, February 20, 2015

A Year of Dresses: Perfect Party Dress

You've seen if before, but how could I not revisit the Perfect Party Dress pattern in A Year of Dresses. It is such a classic dress that quite literally can work for every occasion.  I've shown you a couple all out versions throughout the year, but today I'm showing you simple.  I made this dress specifically to be suitable for everyday play, but of course perfect for other occasions too.

The Perfect Party Dress pattern includes sizes 2-10.  It features a classic length, fully lined bodice and wide sash and ties. The pattern also includes a tuxedo bib that is perfect for embellishing and a ruched hem ruffle for extra frills (those are the extras that I didn't use this time, though I love them). The pattern is a beginner / advanced beginner sewing level and includes options for either buttonhole or no-buttonhole closures in the back. The only little detail I did add is rick rack stitched to the hemline.

I do love how this dress looks with a cardigan, it's so classic and makes this dress even more versatile for every season.  Sweet Pea did indulge us and took off her sweater for two quick pictures so you can see the dress by itself and the bow in the back.

With that, I'm going to let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

  • Classic Beauty


  •  Perfect for Jumping

  •  Spinning and Dancing

  • And most importantly, SWINGING!

If this pattern isn't already in your collection, it needs to be!  It is a staple with so many possibilities, you will make it over and over again.

Here's all your pattern details at a glance:

  • sizes 2-10
  • beginner / advanced beginner sewing level
  • optional tuxedo bib and ruched ruffle for endless embellishing possibilities
  • fully lined bodice
  • buttonhole or no-buttonhole closure options

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Using Buttonhole / Adjustable Elastic in the Potato Chip Skirt or other patterns

The Potato Chip Skirt pattern has a flat front and elastic back, plus separate waistband, so it’s a perfect candidate for adjustable "buttonhole" elastic to accommodate a growing child or a child whose waist size you aren’t sure of. You can use this adjustable waistband technique in this tutorial in any pants, shorts, or skirt pattern with a flat front/elastic back and a separate waistband.

Be aware that you won’t be able to have a reversible skirt if you use the adjustable elastic option, because the elastic would show on the outside if you tried to wear it reversed.

That said, I am using the Potato Chip Skirt's reversible skirt option for this one made of quilting cotton. I could have lined it using the pattern’s lined skirt option, but making it by the reversible instructions is slightly quicker  and I think it gives the quilting cottons some nice body so they stand out in the pretty A-line shape. I’m using Riding Hood by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics. So adorable! You can find some of the prints at Hawthorne Threads.

You'll need buttonhole elastic ... or will you? You can commonly find buttonhole elastic in ⅝” or 3/4” widths. I bought my buttonhole elastic from fr8rain on etsy (advertised as 13/16”, while I am not one to quibble over 1/16”, let's round up and call it 3/4”.)  The Potato Chip Skirt pattern calls for 1” wide elastic so you’ll need to make some adjustments or you can experiment with making your own buttonhole elastic. Using 1” wide knit elastic I was able to use the stretch buttonhole function on my sewing machine to make a decent buttonhole. I also found that simply cutting a small slit in the center seemed to work well neither DIY option frayed when I tugged on it and roughed it up a little to see how it would hold up, though I haven't tried a longer term test. Also, I didn’t try these methods on other elastic besides knit.

Buttonhole Elastic Tutorial

Cut buttonhole elastic for the back 4" or 5” longer than the pattern specifies. Zigzag to finish the raw ends, or turn the ends over and stitch down to secure.

You’ll need to leave gaps in the inner waistband at the side seams for the elastic to exit. To do this, you'll want to press the Potato Chip waistband folds before you join them,  reversing the steps on pages 11 and 12. So, first press the waistbands in half lengthwise to make a crease and unfold, then press the inner edge under 3/8" and unfold. For the Potato Chip’s reversible waistband you’ll use the seam between the two fabrics as the center guide. Lay the front and back waistbands right sides together, and when you join them at the side seams, leave a gap by sewing ½” of the inner waistband, stop and backstitch to secure, then start again about ⅛” before the fold. For the Potato Chip Skirt, this will leave a gap of about 1-1/8” for your elastic. Shown below is how this will look with a two-fabric or a one-fabric waistband.

Attach the waistband per the pattern instructions, except that you can stitch the waistband down all the way around the skirt -you don’t need to leave gaps for elastic since we’ve taken care of that. See our nice hole for the elastic?

Sew two flat, smooth buttons on the inner front waistband about 1” from the side seams. Stitch only through the back layer so your stitches don’t show on the front. You’ve interfaced this per the pattern instructions (right?) so your buttons will stay secure.

Thread the elastic through one gap. Before the tail disappears, fasten the last buttonhole to the button. You don't need to be fancy about this, but I like to fasten this one “right sides together” so it stays in place - you will always leave this buttonhole buttoned. So I give my elastic a flip before I button it down. Then I button the second, or third, or fourth buttonhole down to the same button, that's where the adjustable part comes in.

Pull the elastic all the way through and repeat the buttoning on the other side. As you need to let out or take in the waist, adjust only the top buttonhole, leaving the very end buttonholes in place.

Because the waistband casing is 1.25" wide, designed for 1” elastic, if you are using 3/4” wide you might want to stitch across the waistband to create a narrower channel. I topstitched the top edge of the back waistband to make it a little narrower, but it still feels a little ‘slidey’ in the casing, and I may go back and sew 1” below that for a narrower casing.

That's all there is to sewing buttonhole elastic for an adjustable waistband!

The instant-download Potato Chip Skirt pattern comes in sizes 12 months through 14 years and launches at 9 p.m. Pacific Tonight! You can get your very own pattern right here on the Tie Dye Diva Patterns website.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Year of Dresses: Stripwork Fairytale Dress

My favorite part of sewing is being able to create something new.  Sometimes that's simply following a wonderful Tie Dye Diva pattern. Other times it's taking wonderful elements from one pattern and mix it up for a brand new creation.  That's exactly what I've done this week. I have used the Fairytale Dress Pattern as my base but created a very different skirt.  It looks entirely new!  Gathered skirts are probably the easiest element of a dress to modify.  I'll show you today how to make your very own Stripwork Fairytale.

The Fairytale Dress pattern includes sizes 12-18 months through size 5, but, when  you purchase directly from the Tie Dye Diva website you also receive bonus sizes 6/6X and 7/8. The Fairytale dress is incredibly versatile. It is great layered with a Peasant Top or tee, but is also perfectly suited to wearing as a strappy sundress.  The reverse know style provides a flexible fit that can grow with the wearer, that means it fits longer! This pattern is rated for advanced beginner level seamstresses because of the buttonholes used to lace the front and tie the straps through on the back, Though buttonholes are the nicest finish on this pattern, instructions are included for a no buttonhole version also.  I'd encourage you to venture into the world of buttonholes if you've never tried them.  Once you are familiar with your machine, they really are not difficult!

Alright, let's modify this pattern!  Begin by making the bodice exactly as directed in the pattern.

Now let's make the skirt.  It's helpful to have a notepad and pen handy to jot down some numbers.

  • Measure the bottom edge of your bodice.  Mine was 11.5".    
  • Double that number to get our desired skirt width for the front and back. 11.5 x 2 = 23.  I want a skirt front and back piece that are each 23" wide when finished. 
  • Next add 1" for the seam allowance (1/2" on each side) 23 + 1 = 24". Write that down.
  • For skirt length I have done all the work for you for an at knee length.  This is the length of your skirt panels before the hem band and therefore the length of your strips.  Write it down.
    • 12-18 month - 10.25"
    • 18-24 month - 11.24"
    • 2 - 13.5"
    • 3 - 15.25"
    • 4 - 16.75"
    • 5 - 17.75"
    • 6/6X - 19.75"
    • 7/8 - 21.25"
  • If you would like to calculate your own length follow this simple formula.  
    • Try the bodice on the intended wearer.
    • Measure from the seam line (1/2" above the bottom edge) to the desired length and subtract 1" This assumes that you will be adding a hem band as I have.  Trust me, it works! If you did your own measurements, write that number down.
  • You now have the size of your skirt panels. Mine were 24" x 13.5". Write it down and highlight it!
  • Now pop over to the Stripwork Tutorial (did you know that was my very first blog post ever!) and follow the steps there to piece your stripwork.  For my skirt I chose 5 fabrics repeated one time on each the front and the back.
  • Once your panels are compete come back here and we'll finish up. 
  • Next we will measure and cut the hem band. I do not recommend cutting the hem band until your stripwork panels are done. You may have adjusted your panel measurement following the stripwork tutorial. This will ensure that your hem band is exactly the right width. So, measure the bottom edge of your panel and cut your hem bands this width by 5" tall.
  • Sew your skirt side seams; finish this seam.
  • Sew your hem bands into a loop.
  • Fold your hem band in half lengthwise and press.
  • Sew to the bottom of your skirt panel with right sides together. Finish this seam, press towards the skirt panels, and topstitch.
Your skirt is done!  Now let's add it to the bodice and your Stripwork Fairytale dress will be done. Gather the top edge using your favorite gathering method (I use two basting threads) and sew to the bottom of your bodice, right sides together. Finish this seam, press towards the bodice, and topstitch. Now finish your dress by tying the laces according to the pattern instructions,

Forgive the bow coming undone, I think I'll add a stitch to keep it tied!
There you have it, a Stripwork Fairytale dress to brighten your spring wardrobe.  Sweet Pea thought it was the perfect dress for a pretend picnic!

Here's your quick pattern rundown:

  • Sizes 12 months through 5 with bonus top pattern in sizes 6-8
  • Advanced Beginner sewing level
  • Optional loops means no buttonholes required
  • Adjust able fit with reverse knot styling
  • Versatile. Layer with long or short sleeves or wear as a sundress.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Year of Dresses: RufflePOP Skirt and Invisible Applique Tee Tutorial

This week I had the privilege once again of sewing with another beautiful collection of fabric from Blend Fabrics.  This time the fabrics are from the Riding Hood collection by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics.
Blend Fabrics courtesy photo

This fabric is whimsical and fresh!  I love the use of gray mixed with bright red and aqua.  If you'd like to add some to your collection  (you know you do!), it is available at Hawthorne Threads

I chose to make a RufflePOP Skirt with this sweet fabric and I think the styles suit each other beautifully! I also made an invisible applique tee, my favorite method of applique, and I'll show you how to make your own too!

The RufflePOP Skirt pattern includes sizes 2-8 and is a quick, easy, and fun sew.  It is a beginner level sewing pattern that requires no hemming, or closures of any sort.  Just gather the ruffle and sew together!  I love how this skirt design is sweet and ruffled without being twirly.  This skirt pattern is super fun for everyday, every season, and every occasion!  I think I'll whip up a few more for spring and summer.

Sweet Pea is wearing a size 3 today, with the elastic adjusted smaller to fit her waist.  It's a tad longer on her than intended but still falls just at her knees.  A 2 would have bordered on too short. She wore a size 2 in this post and is several inches taller now!

I used my ruffler foot to make quick work of the ruffled edging.  When using a ruffler, I recommend allowing a little extra fabric to be sure your ruffle is long enough.  I cut my strips the height from the pattern by the full bolt width and then trimmed the excess. It worked beautifully!

I haven't given you a proper embellished tee tutorial in a while, but today I will rectify that.  Invisible applique is my favorite applique look, and you won't believe how easy it really is.  When I first received this fabric I knew that I wanted to use Little Red Riding Hood for an applique.  It's just perfect.

Let's get started.  Here's how to make your own invisible applique tee.

  • Cut the desired shapes from your fabric being sure to leave 1/4" or more around the edge for turning.  You can always trim later if necessary. You'll notice later that I decided later in the process to trim Riding Hood so as to not have a white border around her.

  • Now cut freezer paper the size that you want your finished applique pieces and iron the wax side to the back of your fabric. Trim your fabric so that you have a scant 1/4" past the freezer paper.

  • Also clip into any points. You do not need to notch around the curves.

  • Next, we will press the edges under using a strong liquid starch solution.  I make my own by mixing 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 1 cup of warm water.

  • Apply starch to the edge of your fabric on the wrong size.  A kids paint brush works wonderfully here.  Then press, folding the fabric along the edge of your freezer paper. An orange wood stick helps save your fingers!

  • Work the fabric around curves, making small pleats as necessary. Press well. 

Here Riding Hood is half way done

  • After pressing each piece with starch, gently remove the freezer paper and press lightly one more time. If the freezer paper is difficult to remove, your starch solution is too strong.
  • Next place your pieces on your tee as desired.  I secure them with a little Elmer's Washable glue to hold them in place and make sure that the edges all stay turned under.

  • Place stabilizer on the inside of your tee, behind the applique.  I prefer a water soluble stabilizer, but tear away stabilizer also works. Secure the stabilizer with a few pins so it doesn't shift on you.
  • Move to your machine and thread with invisible thread in the needle and polyester thread in the bobbin.  Select a ziz zag stitch and adjust to be very narrow.  I used a width of 1.0 and a stitch length of 2.5. Stitch around each piece with the zig zag just catching the fold of your applique and overlapping the edge. Your stitching will be invisible, but your applique will be secure.

You may be able to see my needle holes in a few spots here.

  • Remove your stabilizer.  I like to trim away the excess before soaking the stabilizer away.

  • Finally, after removing all stabilizer, I adhered fusible knit interfacing to the back of the applique.  This is optional and I don't always do it, but when using invisible thread it prevents any tiny tails from poking skin.
  • Admire your beautiful work!

So, go make some adorable, quick, and easy RufflePOP skirts and try a fun tee to go with one, you'll be glad you did!  I love completing a skirt outfit with a matching tee.

Here's your quick pattern rundown:

  • Pattern includes sizes 2-8
  • Beginner level pattern
  • Sweet a-line shape for the girl who doesn't want to twirl
  • Unique design with a fun pop of color.  Also great in a single fabric!