Friday, August 30, 2013

colorblock dress - sewing tutorial

As promised ... the sewing tutorial for the Colorblock Dress!  Sorry it's so late, but Mae has been a little stinker today :)  My usual time for sewing and writing blog posts is during her nap, and she decided she was not interested in taking one today until I laid down with her first.  And then about 1 1/2 hours later she finally fell asleep!  At least I was able to get some reading done :)

The rest of the day was quite busy as well.  One of my daughters, who will remain nameless (but will be reading this blog post later!) is trying to finish an Advanced English summer assignment four days before school starts and needs my help.  Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute ... like mother, like daughter I suppose :)

Day 1: Coloring your own dress

Day 2: Drafting the pattern

Today: Sewing the dress :)

All seam allowances are 3/8"

1. First things first, use your newly drafted pattern pieces to cut your fabric.  Cut one bodice piece for each front pattern piece on the fold and cut two back bodice pieces for each back pattern piece - make sure you cut mirror images (flip over pattern piece) for the back pieces.  Use the original pattern pieces to cut the lining since it does not need any color blocking.  Then cut 4 sleeve pieces - two of them as mirror images.  Make sure to mark the center of the sleeve (using the center line drawn in the drafting stage) so you can line it up with the shoulder seam later.

2. With right sides together, sew along straighter edge of sleeve - so in other words, not what is pictured below!  I sewed the sleeves along the wrong edge in this step which changed the way the sleeve fits in the dress, so don't do what I did.  Make sure you sew the sleeve along the edge that is not the armscye in the drafting stage.  Then trim the seam to 1/8" - I clip the seams before I trim but that is not really necessary - it's just a habit for me :)

3. Turn the sleeves right sides out and press well.

4. Sew the top bodice pieces to the lower bodice pieces, right sides together.

5. Press the seam up so they are enclosed in the armscye seams later.

6. Place the front and back bodice pieces right sides together and sew the shoulder seams.  Repeat with the lining pieces.  Press the shoulder seams open to reduce bulk.

At this point you should have the bodice, the bodice lining and the sleeves assembled.  Now let's put them all together!

7. Pin the sleeve to the bodice right sides together with the shoulders seam on the bodice and the mark you made earlier on the the sleeve lined up.  If the sleeves were sewn properly in this picture, they would reach from the color blocking on the front bodice to the color blocking on the back bodice.  Honestly, at this point I wondered why my sleeves didn't fit properly, but I still didn't realize that I had sewn them backwards.  Sometimes I wonder where my brain is :)

8. Now pin the lining to the sleeve/bodice with the right side down.  I just transfer the pins I used in the last step to pin all three layers together.

9. Sew the armscye and clip the seams.

10. Repeat steps 7-9 for the other armscye.

11. Next we will sew the neckline.  But before you start, you should fold under the sleeves to make sure that they do not accidentally get sewn into the neckline.

12.  Sew the neckline and clip the curves.  Do not sew along the back opening!

13. Turn the bodice right sides out by pulling the back through the shoulder channels.  Press all the edges well.  Notice that my sleeves are wavy.  If you sew your sleeves correctly, they will look more like cap sleeves.  Just in case you're wondering, at this point I still didn't realize that I had sewn the sleeves wrong :)

14. It's time to sew the side seams.  Lay the bodice down with the lining on the bottom and the top (so essentially inside out) and the side seams lined up.

15.  Pull up the two layers of lining so the lining is right sides together and the bodice is right sides together as well - make sure the underarm seams are lined up.

16.  Sew the side seam.  Repeat for the other side of the bodice.  Turn the bodice right side out and press the underarm seams flat.  This will finish the bodice for now.

17. Now we need to construct the skirt.  You determined the measurements for the skirt pieces when drafting the pattern, but you still need to figure out the band measurements.  In the drafting stage I decided that I want my band to be 3" finished, so I know my band needs to be cut 6 3/4" which is 6" (finished band width x 2) + 3/4" for a seam allowance on either end.  The lengths are the same as the lengths for the skirt pieces.  For the 2T, I will cut three band pieces - 1 @ 25" for the front and 2 @ 12.5" for the back.  I chose to crease the band pieces (long way with wrong sides together) at this point because I find it easier than doing it when it's a really long piece, but it can be done at the end of step 19 as well.

18.  Sew and finish/serge the skirt side seams right sides together leaving the back open.

19.  Sew the short ends of the bands right sides together leaving the back open - make sure you sew a back band piece to either end of the front band piece so the side seams will line up properly with the skirt.  This seam does not need to be serged since it will not show in the finished dress.  If you did not crease the band pieces earlier, do it now.  Fold the band in half with the wrong sides together and press well.

20.  Place the raw edge of the band along the right side of the bottom edge of the skirt - the folded edge of the band should be closer to the top edge of the skirt.  Sew and finish/serge the band to the skirt.

21. Fold the band down, press the seam up toward the skirt and topstitch is desired.

22. Use the gathering method of your choice, attach the skirt to the bodice right sides together and finish/serge the seam.  Press the seam toward the bodice and topstitch if desired. If you need help gathering the skirt, here is a great youtube video that explains an easy way to gather.

23.  I kind of forgot to take pictures of a couple of steps.  It was getting late and I just wanted to finish quickly, and I totally forgot I was supposed to be taking pictures :)  So I will just explain the best I can.  Measure the length of the back of your dress from the neck seam to the hem.  Measure carefully because this will be the color block button/snap placket and it needs to be accurate.  Add 3/4" to your measurement for seam allowances on either end.  Cut two piece as long as your measurement and 3" wide running with the grain (parallel to the selvedge edge)

Cut two pieces of fusible interfacing 1" wide by the length you measured previously and press them along the wrong side of each piece fabric strip. If that isn't clear, hopefully the picture below will help :)  Then sew the short ends of the fabric strips wrong sides together.

24.  Turn the fabric strips right sides out, fold in half and crease along the long side.  Press well.

25.  Pin one of the strips to the back edge of the dress making sure to line up the top and bottom edges.  Sew and finish/serge the seam.  Repeat with the other side.

26. Press the seams toward the dress and topstich down the length of the dress if desired.

27.  Finish the dress with buttons or snaps, which ever you prefer.  If you use buttons, sew the button holes on the right side and the buttons on the left.  Traditionally, in girls clothing, the right side should overlap the left, although I really don't think anyone notices that kind of thing anymore :)  If you ever wonder why, it's because men's clothes buttoned in the front and they dressed themselves.  Whereas, women's clothes often buttoned in the back and they were fastened by someone else so the buttons needed to be on the opposite side. And children were usually dressed by someone as well, so their clothes fastened the same way as women's.  I have no idea why they still fasten that way since women do dress themselves.  Apparently, women are just more talented then men and can fasten a button either way :)

I can't possibly publish this post without telling you when I finally realized I sewed the sleeve in wrong.  I have to admit that I didn't notice the mistake until I went to write the directions for the sleeves.  If I hadn't written a tutorial, I probably would have wondered for a really long time why my sleeve pattern didn't work the way it should have :)

Blue fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Lake
Dark grey fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Slate
Gold fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Mustard
Lining - Urban Zoology by Robert Kaufman
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Thursday, August 29, 2013

a little pause :)

Sometimes life doesn't fall in line with our plans.  I'm sure that's been said before, but it bears repeating :)  I really did plan to post the entire Colorblock Dress tutorial today, but back-to-school activities got the better of me.  Between some forms that needed to be dealt with and a school to visit, the tutorial just did not happen, but I promise I will finish it tomorrow.  Which of course means that Pattern Review Friday will once again be Pattern Review Friday-ish and will be published either Saturday or Sunday.  So, in the mean time, I leave you with this picture of my recent goodies from Joann's including two prints from the new Mod Kid line! I absolutely love 60% off coupons!  Oh, and buttons too if you couldn't tell :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

colorblock dress - drafting the pattern

I hope you all had fun coloring yesterday and today!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about take a look at this post and then grab your own coloring sheet by clicking on the picture below :)

Now on to the pattern drafting!  The first step is to have a basic bodice pattern handy.  You can get my version (sizes 18 months - 5T) here or you can use any bodice pattern that hits at the natural waist.  Just like I did with the Confetti Dress, I started by printing and assembling the front and back pattern pieces in the correct size.  Then I drew a line (shown in red on the pattern) where I wanted the color blocking to be, making sure that the lines are the same distance from the bottom of the pattern pieces (not the top!)  For placement, I knew I wanted it to fall somewhere slightly above  the bottom of the armscye.  I totally had to Google that word because all that would come to mind is arm scythe and that is a whole different world of search results :)

Then I cut the both pattern pieces on the lines.  I also made notations about where to add seam allowances and which of the new pieces was the back and which was the front.  I would hate to mix that up later, and knowing me, that is exactly what I would do :)  The one thing I did forget to add here, but you might want to, is that you need to cut two back pieces instead of cutting one on the fold.

Now you need to draft the cap sleeve pattern.  I took several pictures to try and make this easier, since I'm not sure I will be able to describe it very well with words.  First, take your new upper back and front bodice pieces and fold them down 3/8" along the shoulders.

Now join the two bodice pieces at the shoulder (a piece of tape works fine) and trace the armscye and bodice edges (as shown in the picture) on a new sheet of paper or whatever you use to trace patterns.

Next you need to add three lines to the pattern piece.  The first two lines need to be drawn 3/8" away from the two straight lines in the last step.  The third line just extends out from the shoulder seam on your bodice pattern and marks to center point of the sleeve.  Also label the back and front of the sleeve so the sleeve fits properly when you make the dress.

Extend the armscye curve on either side to meet to new lines you drew in the last step and make a mark at those points.  Also make a mark where the armscye meets the center line.  Now you need to measure 3/4" from the first two marks you made and make two more marks.  For the final mark you need to determine how wide you would like your finished cap sleeve to be (I wanted mine to be 1 1/2") and take that number and add 3/4" (seam allowances for the sleeve) and make one final mark along the center line.  My mark was 2 1/4" away from the armscye.

Draw a smooth curve from the top and bottom marks you made in the last step, making sure to go through the center mark as well.  I stopped at this point, but after constructing the dress, I realized that the areas shaded in yellow need to be added to the sleeve pattern piece.  Those little triangles (although they don't look like much) will make the dress much easier to sew.  Trust me, I found out the hard way :)

Now all you need to do is cut the cap sleeve pattern piece along dashed line and you are finished making the pattern pieces, except for the skirt which is not an actual pattern piece and will be explained in the nest step.

To determine the length of the skirt, I first figured out how wide I wanted the band along the bottom.  I wanted my band to be 3" for no other reason than it just felt like a good width :)  Then I did some math (those of you who who are groaning can stop now, it's rather easy math!)  I started with the skirt length given in the chart included with the basic bodice pattern (you may have to adjust this if you are using a different pattern) and I subtracted the included hem allowance of 2" (which I now realize is not written anywhere on the pattern ... I will need to fix that!)  Then I subtracted the width of the band and added the seam allowance needed to attach the band.  My final length for the skirt was 9 3/8" for the size 2T.  I also included notes reminding myself that I need one skirt piece 25" wide for the front and two skirt pieces 12.5" wide each for the back.

Tomorrow I will go over cutting the fabric and constructing/finishing the dress.  I hope to "see" you all then!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

colorblock dress - coloring for big kids :)

Here's my confession for the day: I do not like coloring books ... and I never have :)  Even as a kid I would get bored before I could finish a single picture.  And I would always, without fail, color outside the lines.  Not on purpose, but just because I'm apparently no good at coloring in the lines.  And then I would want to quit because in my mind the pictured was ruined anyway so why bother to finish.  I was truly my harshest critic, and I still am today.  With that attitude, it's a miracle I ever finish anything :)

So, I'm sure you're asking, what does that little mini rant have to do with sewing?  I rediscoved my dislike for coloring in the lines recently (though for different reasons than when I was a kid!) while designing the Colorblock Dress.

This dress is the first (of many hopefully!) of the tutorials I promised based on the free basic bodice pattern found here.  I started by creating a coloring page so I could fill in my color choices and then built a tutorial based on my drawing.  This is when I discovered I still don't like coloring :)  I colored the front first and could barely make it through the back.  Seriously, that's like five minutes of coloring, and I could barely keep at it long enough to finish!  But, for some reason beyond my understanding, I can sit at a sewing machine for hours on end, making mistake after mistake, determined to finish whatever I am working on, and I never get bored.  I guess I like sewing a bit more than coloring :)

Click on the blank Colorblock Dress coloring page below to print your own.  Or, give it to your kids and see if they have the patience to color the whole thing :)  And then come back tomorrow for the tutorial on how to alter the Basic Bodice to create your own dress.

Just for fun, here's a little peek of my finished dress :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

pattern review friday - small fry skinny jeans

The Craftstormer Small Fry Skinny Jeans sew along is done!  I even managed to finish yesterday, although, since I didn't really look at the clock when I was done, it might have actually been the wee hours of today :)  It shouldn't have taken me that long, but I made some flat out what in the world were you thinking questionable choices regarding my fabric and finish details.

First off, just a disclaimer, in approx. 15 years of sewing, I've never sewn anything that remotely resembles tailored pants.  I keep saying I will, but then another adorable, have-to-work-on-it-right-now dress idea pops into my head and the pants are stuck on the back burner ... or in the oven ... or maybe behind the stove never to be seen again (kind of like the Hexbug that managed to go under the stove and down the hole where the gas line goes into the basement where it lived out the rest of it days hours stuck in the drywalled ceiling going in circles!)  So anyway, sewing jeans is totally new to me, but this seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.  After all, it's a free pattern and a tutorial.  How could anything possibly go wrong!

That's what I was thinking right up until I started working with my fabric.  It's a thick sweatshirt material ... after all, we do live in Michigan and I want these pants to be suitable for winter.  Now that I'm finished, I'm sure Mae will be warm enough this winter, but, as a result, her button loops will not be sewn down properly, because there in no way on earth that my sewing machine is going to sew through nine (yes nine!) layers of heavy fleece.  I can't even lift the pressure foot enough the get the belt loop under it!  So I sewed the front two button loops down by hand (royal pain in the you-know-where) and decided the ones in back are cute enough as is :)  The button loops weren't the only problem I had with the thick fabric either, so next time I sew these, I will use a much lighter weight material!

I figured I'd start with a picture that showed them from a distance to get an idea of the fit.  That, and you can't see any of my mistakes, so I figure it's the perfect picture!  The pattern is supposed to be a skinny jeans, but it fits Mae a little looser than a typical skinny jean.  And that's after I took some width out of the legs since I knew the pattern was too big for her.  I also chopped about 2" off the legs since I didn't want the pants to cover her toes :)  I think the pattern runs more like a 2T/3T, but I'm not sure since Mae is a bit pint sized and doesn't quite wear a size 2T yet.

Laura mentioned that she wasn't sure that these would fit over a cloth diaper, and I'm happy to report that they fit fine on Mae, cloth diaper and all!  The rise is plenty long and the adjustable waist makes it easier to keep the pants covering the diaper than typical elastic.

The pattern was easy to print and all the pieces fit together beautifully.  The tutorial is so incredibly detailed and thorough (and well written!) which makes this pattern accessible even to someone who has never tackled jeans before (i.e. me!)  I definitely plan to sew this pattern again.  I may just wait until Mae does a little growing first :)

The half fly used in the pattern is genius!  Mae has such a skinny waist that it is hard to get regular elastic waist pants over her diaper since the waistband doesn't like to stretch enough.  The half fly totally solves that problem, and it looks cute too!  You'll just have to take my word for it since I didn't get a single picture where you can actually see the top of the pants :)

The details don't end in the front.  The back of the jeans, with the little patch pockets and jean stitching make Mae's little patootie even cuter, if such a thing is possible!  This picture gives a great idea of the fit.  The jeans really do fit great over a cloth diaper, and you can see how they are slightly looser through the thighs than shown in the pattern, but they look adorable whether they are skinny or not :)

The only change I made to pattern (except anything related to the fit) is to double stitch the seam along the outside of the pants rather than the inseam.  Since the pants are solid cream, they just needed a little something extra along the sides.  To do this, I sewed up the side seams before the inseam so it would be easier to topstitch.

Main fabric - Cream heavy bamboo fleece from Nature's Fabrics
Lining (not visible) - Riley Blake Farm Fresh
Topstitching - Gutermann 471 (a great muted pumpkin orange tone!)
Button - Vintage pearl

The last few days have been lots of fun at our house.  We had a new deck installed this week so we can use our back door again instead of having to go out the front door to get to the backyard like we have for more than a year now :)  Also, we picked fruits and veggies today at a local orchard where I got stung by some kind of bee and now I can barely bend my right index finger ... boo!  And, the icing on the cake, Mae climbed out of her crib three nights ago (she's been staying up until after midnight as a result!), so we moved her crib mattress into her sisters' room.  I have no idea why since this is what I wake up to every morning :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

free basic bodice pattern

The free basic bodice pattern is here!!!!!

I thought I would make the pattern drafting for the Confetti Dress just a little bit easier, so I drafted a basic bodice pattern based off of the one I use.  It's available in the following sizes: 18 months, 2T, 3T, 4T and 5T.  I may expand the sizing in the future, but that was enough pattern drafting for me for the time being :)  The pattern also includes a cutting guide for the skirt pieces.

This pattern is intended as a basis for the Confetti Dress and other patterns I will share in the future.  There are no plackets or openings included in the pattern, but they can certainly be added as needed.  I included directions for making a back keyhole opening in the Confetti Dress tutorial.  Be sure to come back and look for more tutorials in the next few weeks and months!

Tutorials using this pattern (updated as I add tutorials to the blog):
Confetti Dress
Colorblock Dress

If you haven't downloaded the free 2T Confetti dress pattern (no pattern drafting required for this size!) click on the picture below:

I hope everyone (with a little one in a size 2T that is!) is following along with the Small Fry Skinny Jeans Sew Along over at Craftstorming!  In my usual procrastinator style, I just started today and I am officially caught up with day 1 :)  Mae doesn't quite wear a 2T yet anyway (and it was 85 outside today) so I'm not really feeling any urgency to finish at the moment.  Hopefully, the fact that I plan for this pattern to be this week's Pattern Review Friday (Friday-ish might be more accurate) will get me moving!

Monday, August 19, 2013

patterns, sew-alongs and scraps, oh my!

In this case, a picture is actually worth a thousand words!  And possibly a thousand little pieces of scrap paper strewn all over my sewing room as well :)

This week, Laura, a self proclaimed "pudding person" and the creative mind behind Craftstorming, is hosting a sew along for her size 2T Small Fry skinny jeans.  Even though Mae isn't quite a true size 2T yet, I'm going to sew along and hope she grows into them sometime during out seemingly endless winter!

Even more exciting for me, I'm drafting my first sized pattern to share here on the blog.  And just like the other patterns I've shared so far, this one will be FREE!  Hopefully, more on that (and maybe even a pattern if all goes well!) by the end of the week.

So I may be a little scarce this week, but don't worry.  It only means many more scraps of paper are joining the "to be cleaned later" pile as I attempt to scale a pattern for multiple sizes.  Hopefully the sew along gives me a few sewing breaks and helps keep me sane :)

Have a great week!

p.s. I am registering my oldest for high school this week and he turns 15 next Tuesday!  It feels like he just graduated from kindergarten a few months ago :(  He also starts Driver's Ed soon, so for anyone in Michigan, you might want to stay off the roads for a while :)