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Monday, May 30, 2011

The Candy Striper Skirt Tutorial

Hi friends! Guess what? I'm officially 20 weeks pregnant so i'm halfway done! Yay!

However that also means that i'm getting to the point where i'm so pregnant that things aren't fitting me again. On top of that it's getting really hot in Atlanta. Like really hot. So I decided I needed a new skirt that would fit my lumpy hot mess of a body for the summer and i've been wanting to use this stripe fabric for a while.

Thus the Candy Striper Skirt was born...also known as the "i am so pregnant that nothing fits unless it has tons and tons of stretch" skirt....if you prefer. It's got a shirred panel at the top so it grows comfortably with you and it can be worn at any place on you (although I have to admit that it looks terrible right below my belly on me, but i'm sure it would look cuter on you!)

You will need:
1.5-2 yards of fabric depending on your size. (I'm a large so I used about 1 3/4 yards)
Elastic thread
Tape measure
Disappearing marker
A straight edge for cutting (optional)

So I found it was helpful to have a skirt that already fits well on hand to reference, but it's optional because you're already covering that base when you measure your waist, but that's why i have a random skirt in the picture if you were wondering! 

Now take your measuring tape and measure around the widest part you will wear the skirt. If you are pregnant like me, measure around your baby bump. If you think you just want to wear it at your hips, measure there. You will need your band that length around plus about another 6 inches. If you are not pregnant, you probably only need to add about another 3 or 4 inches. Just keep in mind it will shrink up when you shirr it.

Now decide how tall you want your shirred waistband to be. Like I said, I'm at the part of my pregnancy where I only get bigger so I wanted it nice and tall to go over my bump. Mine is 6 inches tall. Mark on your fabric where you want to cut (my line is purple but kinda hard to see)

Cut out your top panel piece. Because mine was my waist plus 6 inches, I needed a little extra fabric to add on to my panel to get it comfortably around my bump. Once sewn together, my strip was 6 inches tall and about 50 inches long. 

 If you have to cut an extra strip to add in, sew that onto your piece now with right sides facing so you have one long strip for your waistband.

 Grab your long strip and hem it by folding it over, ironing and folding it over again and sewing it down. It's way easier to hem now than after you've shirred it!

 Now we are going to create our shirring lines. Since my piece was 6 inches tall, I decided to do a line every inch so I had 6 shirred lines. I used a yardstick (a straightedge, book, something else straight will work just as well). Make sure you draw your lines down the right side of the fabric so that your matching thread will be on top and your elastic bobbin will be on the bottom.

 I used my disappearing marker to make the lines. They're purple. Can you see them? Look really closely! If not, trust me they're there! ;)

 Now it's time to grab your elastic thread. If you are not familiar with shirring, there's a great tutorial at Prudent Baby here. Drop your elastic bobbin in and load the color thread you want to show on the front. 
 Now follow your drawn lines and shirr down your waistband. It seems tedious but it really doesn't take that long.

 This is what it looks like when you're done on the front.

 And the view from the back.

Now with your right sides together sew the ends of your waistband so that it becomes a tube. 

 Then go over it again with a tight zig zag stitch.

 You can leave the top just hemmed as we've done already so the top just ruffles. I thought it would be really cute, then I put in on and it wasn't on me. Once I realized it I folded the top down 1/2 an inch and hemmed it again.

 Now to cut the skirt. I've seen a few tutorials tell you to make your skirt 1.5 to 2 times the size of your waist. I found that this made me look like a tent. I found the best solution was to measure your widest part (in my case my hips) and divide that number by 2 and add 3 inches.

For example: If my hips were 32 inches around (hahaha!!!) I would cut 2 pieces that are 19 inches long. You can make them as long as you want your skirt. I used my brown skirt as a length measurement because I liked where it hit. Mine was around 25 inches long.

So fold your fabric in half and cut a rectangle your hips divided by 2 + 3 inches and however long you want it. You should have 2 rectangles.

Place your rectangles right sides together and sew down both sides, making it into a tube. 

 Hem the bottom by folding it over once, ironing and then folding over again and sewing down. Or if you're lazy like me fold it over, sew it then fold it over again and sew it again.

Now we are going to attach the skirt to the waistband. Measure your finished waistband and your finished skirt portion. You're going to want to gather your skirt slightly to fit it to the waistband. 

 Set your machine to the longest running straight stitch and sew around the skirt portion. Leave the strings long so you can gather them.

Pull the strings to gather the top up a bit until it's about the same size as your waistband.  

 Lay your skirt down right side up (wrong sides facing) and slide your waistband over the top of the skirt with your unfinished edges together and the right side of your waistband facing the right side of your skirt.

 Pin around the top edge.

Now sew along the top edge, removing the pins as you go. 

Go over where you stitched again with a tight zig-zag stitch to finish the edges. Trim the excess.

 Now flip that waistband back up and you're ready to go!

 It can be worn comfortably over your growing belly


Or you can wear it up high! Whichever you prefer! Whether pregnant or not, this will be a very comfortable skirt.

Thanks for reading! As always, let me know if you have any questions! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Frilly Wrap Dress Tutorial

Sorry to those of you who saw this post in your reader and then it disappeared! I had it up for a day or two and then Blogger took it away and it never returned! Did this happen to any you? It was frustrating to say the least! 

Anyway, this is so long overdue! A few of you had asked for a tutorial on this dress but last weekend we moved from South Carolina to Atlanta so things got super busy! I tried to get this tutorial put up before we left but I ran out of time.

The Frilly Wrap Dress
You will need: (for a 18 month/2T size)

1 yard of fabric (you will use all of the 1 yard for a 18 month/2T)
3 coordinating buttons
Disappearing pen or marker
A dress or shirt that currently fits your child (but doesn't have a ton of stretch)

 I found it was much easier to do a paper pattern first for this dress so I taped 2 pieces of computer paper together so it would be big enough.

Now lay out your dress or shirt you are going to trace. If it has some stretch, make sure to add a bit extra (I usually add 1-1.5 inches extra). This was the first wrap dress I did and since I used broadcloth that didn't stretch, I used it for my pattern.

Trace around the top of your dress. I decided I wanted the sleeves a little capped so I went out a little at the shoulder on my paper.  I added about a 1/2 inch seam allowance as I traced.

Fold your paper in half. We will cut in out folded in half so each side is symmetrical. 

 Cut it out
 And unfold and now you have a perfectly symetrical top bodice piece! Grab another 2 sheets of computer paper and tape those together too for your back bodice pieces.

 Trace the top piece we just made and cut out onto the new sheet of paper.

 Fold in half again and cut it out. Now you should have 2 identical bodice pieces.

 Grab one of your pieces and a straight edge or ruler. Make a line from the bottom right corner to about an inch or 2 to the left of the center collar. The closer you go to the center of the collar, the higher the cross top will be.
 Cut down your line. I labeled the left and right side for future use.

 Now cut down the middle of your other top piece. This will be the pieces that will button together in the back.
*Note: We will be folding the fabric in half to cut out our pieces so we have 2 of each piece. This is because we will be lining the bodice. 

Fold your fabric over just far enough to cut the 2 back pieces and lay out your back pieces. Because we need some extra room for overlap with the buttons, give yourself about an extra inch on 1 piece and about 2 inches on the other. See how the one on the top has an extra inch on the side and the bottom one has 2 inches on the side?

 Pin (or tape if you're lazy like me!) the pattern pieces down to the fabric and cut it out.

 Now you should have 4 pieces: 2 left side and 2 right side.

Now it's time to cut out the front bodice pieces!

Lay out your left and right front pieces on the fabric and tape them down.

 Cut them out! Now you should 4 front pieces as well: 2 left front pieces and 2 right pieces.

 Now grab one side of your back bodice piece and line it up with the coordinating piece you cut it out with. Put them right sides together and pin around.

 Now sew around where you've pinned making sure to leave a hole at the bottom of the bodice. We will use that hole to flip it right side out.

 This is the bottom of the bodice. See where the hole is?  

Now flip it right side out. Use your fingers to push out the corners. 

 I know ironing can be a pain but it really helps this step look good. Iron down your piece so it's edge is nice and clean.

Repeat with the other side of the bodice: pin with right sides together, sew around leaving a hole at the bottom of the bodice, flip it right side out and iron it. 

 Now repeat with the 2 front pieces of the bodice. Place them right sides together, pin in place and sew around. Make sure you leave a hole in the bottom of the bodice on all pieces.

 Flip both pieces right side out and iron them down. Now you should have 4 lined pieces: 1 left back bodice, 1 right back bodice, 1 left front bodice and 1 right front bodice.

Now we are going to make our button holes so we can close up the back of the bodice. Grab your side that you made 2 inches longer (in my case it was the right side which is underneath shown above) and lay it under the other side. You want the longer side underneath so you have plenty of overlap with your buttons.

Grab a ruler and measure the length of your bodice (mine was about 6 inches). Then decide where you want your buttons and mark them. I did 3 buttons (but you could do more if you wanted) so I made my button marks at 1 inch, 3 inches and 5 inches so they were evenly spaced.

 Once your buttonholes are marked, grab your button hole foot for your machine if you have it, if not you can manually make the holes (there are tons of great youtube videos on this)

Place your button in your buttonhole foot and squeeze the slider in so it knows how big your button is. 

 And attach your foot to your machine. It goes on the little silver bar just like your presser foot does. This is a side view.

 Place your fabric underneath the buttonhole foot and find your mark you made for your button hole. I moved the fabric up another inch once I found the mark because it starts at the front of the button hole.

Pull down you pull the needle bar down making sure it's between the 2 plastic prongs. If you're confused about what I'm talking about see the Easter dress tutorial for more pictures and an explanation of the needle bar.

Choose what kind of buttonhole you want and set your machine accordingly. You can see I prefer the round buttonhole which is #9 on my machine. 

Now let her rip and make those buttonholes! 

Now grab your seam ripper and gently open up your buttonholes

Now lay the buttonhole side again where you want it over the other side and mark through the buttonholes where the buttons need to be sewn on. 

 Sew your buttons where you've marked.

 Now your top should button up nicely! Leave it buttoned for the future steps.

Now lay your front pieces where you want them with the right sides together so you're working on the inside. Lay one side over the other and pin the shoulders once you have it where you like it. Then sew the shoulders with a tight zig zag stitch. 

I went in and clipped them with pinking shears but you could also just cut the excess off with scissors.

 Flip it right side out. You'll probably need to adjust your front wrap pieces again since they're not secured in place yet.
 Now go back to what's left of your fabric. Measure from the button closure in the back of your bodice, around the neck to where you want the ruffles to end on the front. The side that wraps on top will be longer than the side that wraps underneath. Cut 2 strips about 1.5 times the length of each side. I like wide ruffles so i make them about 5.5 inches wide.

 Take your strips and iron them in half with right sides facing each other.

 Sew down the side with a straight stitch.

 And turn them right side out (I found that a safety pin works best for this). You should now have a tube.
Iron it down with the seam running down the center of the back. This will be hidden so nobody will see it unless you flip the ruffle up. 

Now we are going to take care of the raw edges on the tubes. Take your fingers and roll it down into itself. 

Iron it down so the raw edge is on the inside. 

 And sew it in place along the edge.

Now we are going to ruffle the strips. Set your machine to the longest straight stitch and go all along the edge of the strip, leaving the strings long at the end. 

 Now grab your long string and gather your strip until it's about the length you need.

Pin it in place along the neckline starting with the buttons in the back and working up to the front. 

 I just pinned my short side first. See how I just stopped the ruffle shortly below where the right side wraps across. That's why that side is shorter.

 Sew it in place. Sorry these pictures are horrible. We'd packed up all my lamps at this point so I didn't have much in the way of light!

 Now take your longer strip and make that into a ruffle too by sewing a long running stitch along the side and then gathering up the ruffles to your desired length.

 Now pin it in place front the buttons on the back all the way to the point at the front.

 Sew it in place.
 Now we're going to secure down those 2 front wrap pieces that i'm sure are driving you crazy at this point! Pin the top front and the button front pieces together. Make sure you don't pin them to the back of the bodice!

 Now grab what's left of your fabric and cut it into a rectangle 1.5 times the width of the bodice at the bottom (where the skirt will connect to the bodice) and however long you want the dress to be. Hem the bottom. This is the skirt portion.

 I did 2 rows along the bottom hem to make it look a little more finished.

Now grab your skirt part and put the right sides together and sew down the edge making it into a big tube or circle. 

With your longest straight stitch again, sew along the top of the skirt and leave the strings long. Pull the strings and gather the fabric so it meets up with the bottom of the bodice.

Lay the skirt portion right sides facing inwards (or the inside of the skirt facing out as seen above) and lay it over the bodice (the bodice should be right sides out). The bottom of the bodice should be where the top of the skirt is now. Sew along that edge to connect the bodice and skirt.

Sorry this is not a very good picture of this step! 

Flip the skirt down and now you have your finished dress! You can add another ruffle to the bottom like I did with this version if you want.
 I ran out of fabric on this one because I measured a piece wrong and had to cut another so I had to skip the ruffle!

Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions and I hope you have a wonderful day! Thanks so much for stopping by!