Project Post – Super Simple Sundress (Pillowcase Dress)

Projects

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

As a primarily knitwear designer and a non-quilter I rarely get to play with the interesting and fun printed cotton I see around. But some times, on the odd occasion, an idea for something grabs hold and I have the perfect excuse to play. The heat wave that hit the west coast has been such an occasion, whats better for hot weather the loose cotton! Since I’m not about to make something for myself, (too much fabric needed and too close to being done with pregnancy) the wee girl was the perfect candidate. Some super simple sundresses (inspired by some I had seen on etsy) seen to be a good project and a 50% off sale at Hancock Fabrics seem to be a good opportunity.

The main fabric prints were picked by the wee girl while I picked the coordinating print. I used 1 yard of main and 1/2 yard of coordinating fabric for each dress.

Pattern, what pattern? This time I winged it and just went off of a few basic measurements by the width of the fabric. I measured from her shoulders to her knees for an approximate length and just ripped the fabric to the appropriate length. I then folded it in half and then in half again keeping the centre fold about 1/2″ from the edge or at the edge of the selfedge. Next I cut what will become armholes, basic j-ish shapes out of the outer edge and centre of the fabric. The neck is a drawstring so I ripped a length of coordinating fabric apron. 4″ – 6″ wide and another 3″ – 4″ wide for the hem. That would be about the extent of the the pattern, real precise eh?

Sewing is equally as simple as the “pattern/cutting”. I seamed the open selfedge edges together at about 1/2″ seam allowance or whatever the selfedge was and pressing open. I then finished the armholes with bias tape and folded the top edge down and topstitched it to make a casing. To give the hem a longer life (ability to be easily lengthened) I finished it with a facing on the outside that can be dropped and refaced to make the dress longer if necessary. I seamed the facing the hem with right side to the wrong side. I then understiched the seam allowance to the body and fliped the facing to the front and topstiched it in place along it’s top edge. Voila! after making the draw string and treading to through the two casings I’m done!

She now has a few in variety of prints, even some of her dollies have matching dresses.

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Project Post – Swaddles to dream

Projects

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

More up cycling for my Aden and Anais swaddles. This time I’m making dream blanket. I have one for my daughter and she loves it so I figured since 4 swaddles = 1 dream I’d make one for the wee boy from our extras.

I wanted to get this project done quickly since it’s one I have been meaning to do since before we moved back in February so I opted to do what I call “cheater” knit binding instead of the cleaner typical technique. Cheater binding is nice enough and much easier and quicker to do, great for a beginner. The one I’m doing doesn’t require a serger but I will note another one that does.

Materials: 4 swaddles (I used ones by Aden and Anais but any brand will do), knit jersey for binding.

Prep:

  1. Undo the hems of all 4 swaddles. (Not mandatory but I find it easier if I do)
  2. Iron the swaddles.
  3. Match up swaddles along two edges smooth out.

Sewing:

  1. Baste swaddles together along matched edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  2. Since my unmatched edges do not meet they will need to be trimmed. The easiest way to do this is snip the edge of the swaddles at the shortest length and rip (scary but effective).
  3. Baste ripped edge at 1/4″ SA.
  4. Snip and rip the last edge.
  5. Baste at 1/4″.
  6. To trim corner: find something that is the desired size of curve. Place on fabric and cut around it. The blanket is now ready for binding.

Since bias tape doesn’t come in a knit I made my own. Normally I’d use a rotary cutter and quilting ruler but since I haven’t unpack those yet I improvised. Using a piece of 1 1/2″ wide elastic as a pattern piece I cut out strips of the jersey. The nice thing with jersey is it doesn’t need to be cut on the bias so it doesn’t use too much yardage to make.

Tip: it is much easy to cut jersey (or just about any fabric) if you use underlay.

Adding cheater knit binding: 

  1. Seam binding to blanket at 1/2″ SA right sides together.
  2. Fold binding over SA covering stitch line at the back.
  3. Edge stitch the binding along the folded edge on the right side, careful to catch all layers.

Jersey doesn’t really fray so edge finishes are not as necessary as with a woven. It does however tend to curl which in this case helps clean up the finish on the under side of the blanket with washing (see example in photos below).

Cheater binding with a serger: This is basically adding ribbing to the edge and top stitching it down and can be seen in my Baby Stuff project (Teal and white burp cloth) or in the photos below. It is also super fast so great if time is an issue.

  1. Fold binding in half and serg to blanket edge right sides together.
  2. Press binding out covering SA.
  3. Topstitch binding to SA.

 

Ironing plastic bags

Projects, Tutorials

This week I picked up a quilting panel to be made into a cloth book for the wee boy (The Pokey Little Puppy). He likes crinkly pages so instead of using batting to line the pages decided to use plastic bags, but I had to iron them first.

No, really, I had to iron them first. I found a tutorial years ago (my link is long gone) where someone ironed plastic grocery bags together to make a stronger plastic fabric and figured this would work perfectly for my needs. Thicker (better crinkle), more durable (it’s going in the washing machine at some point) plastic interlining that doesn’t require a trip to the fabric store.

Here’s how I did it:
I used two bags flattened and smoothed out together. I placed them between two pieces of scrap muslin (the inks used to print the backs can sometimes transfer so I recommend using scrap fabric) and turned my iron to the cotton/hottest setting and turned off the steam. You want the iron hot since you are actually trying to melt the plastic.
Slowly iron the bags through the fabric trying to use consistent speed and pressure. You will likely be able to hear the plastic melting and contracting as you iron. Give it a minute to cool before moving the fabric to check on it otherwise the plastic may stick a bit. If it isn’t melted thoroughly just cover it back up and try again. It’s pretty forgiving that way. The end result is a paper like plastic that now can be used for what you want. In my case a baby book.

Project Post – Leftover Skirt, a tutorial

Projects, Tutorials

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

After finishing the Sweet Pea Dress I had bit of swaddle left so I decided to make a skirt for the little girl.

Fabric: leftover Aden & Anais swaddle and leftover brown slug jersey from the A&A Sweet Pea Dress

Pattern: a bunch of rectangles. Not very exact or anything but this is what I did.
Waistband – Hip plus ease wide x desired (what looked right) hight. I folded the whole thing in half to make the elastic casing.
Skirt – max hight x max length I could get out of the remnant of swaddle, I then cut it in half so pocket could be added in the side seams.
Pockets – what I could get that would fit a child’s hand folded in half.
Skirt lining – same hight as skirt minus about 1/2″ x hip plus ease.

Sewing: Prep sewing – instead of serging I folded the short edge of the skirt and the pocket opening edges of the pockets for a clean finish. (I don’t have my serger set up yet and didn’t what to have to do so). I then did a french seam on the bottom of the pockets ending 1/2″ from the open edge.
Adding pockets – I seamed the open edge of the pockets to the side seams with at 3/8″ SA and the under stitched the SA to the pocket. Next it sewed the side seams with a 1/2″ SA.
Waist band – I seamed the single seam with 1/2″ SA making a tube. I then folded it in half. And place the seamed elastic inside.
Joining the two – I used a double line of gathering to match the skirt to the waist band. I then basted the two together with a 3/8″ SA. This just kept things more stable and manageable to put the lining in.
Lining – I seamed the single seam making a tube. I then seamed it to the waistband/skirt combo with a 1/2″ SA. I kept the SA facing down towards the lining and under stitched it in place.

Project Post – A&A Sweet Pea swaddle dress

Projects

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

The wee boy is getting bigger and not needing all his Aden and Anais swaddles so I decided to make something else out of them. The fabric is lovely and they are a good size blanket giving me plenty of yardage to work with. Although the Sweet Pea dress is a dress it also works nicely as a tunic top. It has raglan sleeves and an easy fit which seems quite fitting for the lightness of the fabric. It also allows for a lot of flexibility in sizing. My daughter wore the ones I made her for quite a long time.

Pattern: Sweet Pea Dress – on Threadbias (Also available on Etsy)
 
Fabric: Aden & Anais monkey print swaddle, brown slub jersey
 
Prep: Since I’ve washed the swaddle a few times it has developed this nice waffle texture, great for a blanket but not so good for cutting so ironing it first. I’m also removing the A&A tags so they can be added back as a reminder of where the fabric came from.

Cutting: The swaddles are not very stable so I like to use underlay to keep it from shifting around. The trick to using underlay is to use a paper that is more stable then the one you are cutting. I’m using jersey for the band and to make things simple I’m putting on the fusing before I cut the pieces out. Both have to be cut anyways just this way the jersey is stablized before cutting instead of after.

I guess I have to get my sewing machine set up, something I haven’t done yet since moving.

Sewing: Even though I wrote the instructions I’m still having to follow them since it’s been a while since I last made one of these dresses. A trick for sewing fused placket facings: if you want a clean finish on the open edge, seam the fusing to the facing along that edge (wrong side and glue side out) and fold glue side in before ironing. The seam allowance ends up under the fusing leaving a nice clean edge. (see the picture.)
To cut down on how flouncy the pleats are, (this dress if for a boy,) I tacked the pleats for the first 1 1/4″ leaving 3/4″ visible once the band is on.
I opted to use french seam since the fabric is so light (serging may just pull out), makes for a soft inside and gives it a heirloom feel.
I stay stitched the edge of the band facing to make it easier to fold and more stable.

Finishing: I finished it with elasticized sleeve hem, a wide bottom hem and snap closures.

Want to see what I did with the leftover fabric? Check out the Leftovers skirt, a tutorial.

Project Post – Mei Tai Baby Carrier

Projects

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

Due to an order snafu I ended up with some free cotton canvas. I am due with #2 this summer an thought a mei tai would be a good idea, so here is my first attempt. The pattern I drafted seems a bit big, luckily I have enough fabric to make more then one. I mostly used this tutorial.

Black body/ties – light weight canvas
Decretive fabric – Ikea hippo print cotton
Padding – scrap sweat shirt fleece.

See photos for progress

Done! Fits my 3 year old well but I do think it is a bit big for an infant. May look at adjusting the body measurements a bit.

Update: The wee boy is here! I did end up making a slightly smaller one and it has been fantastic. I have a little boy who does not want to be put down so having a light weight carrier has been a life saver. Heck I’m typing while wearing him now. 

Project Post – Breast Pads

Projects

I have been using the project feature of the Threadbias.com site and really enjoying being able to track my projects. Periodically I will be posting copies here.

With the arrival of the wee boy imminent I have busily been try to finish off all my baby projects, the latest being breast pads. When I had my first baby I had these wonderful bamboo terry, large, fitted breast pads, I loved them. Later when a friend of mine got pregnant I lent them to her and she loved them as much as I did. Now that we are both pregnant again we are lamenting their disappearance, not to mention that our breast feeding days of needing them will over lap. Step in the popularization of DIY cloth diapering and supplies needed to the rescue! I ordered PUL (think diaper covers) and diaper flannel for us to make our own.

The pattern is pretty simple, just a circle with a small dart. I experimented with size of circle and dart in tissue paper before making in out of card. I settled on a generous 5″ diameter with a 1″ dart.

For fabric we are using 1 yard PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) 1Mil and 5 yards of Diaper Flannel.

To get ready for cutting I cut/ripped the flannel into 1 yard strips to match the PUL and divided the PUL into 2 pieces the same width as the flannel (it is about half the width of the PUL). I then used my card pattern to trace a marker for the pattern directly onto the PUL.

To cut the PUL was layered on top of 2 layers of flannel and all layer cut together in 2 sets (perfect for two people cutting).

For sewing I kept the fabric in the same layered order as cutting and sewed all the darts in one string (no trimming threads in between). We then separated the pieces while at the same time assembling the pad, keeping the order of cutting and staggering the dart seams for a more comfortable fit. In sets of three layers each pad then had the edge serged securing all the layers together. I did find that the right side of the PUL wanted to stick/grab against the pressure foot but a light dusting of cornstarch fixed that.

We now have a total of 80 pads making 40 sets giving us each 20 sets each. I don’t think we will have to worry about not having enough.

Download a PDF of the pattern – Breast Pads

 

 

“Failure is Always an Option” – Adam Savage

Updates

So guess what this post it about.

To start thing off right/wrong this is not the post I thought I was going to make. It was going to be a short and sweet post about the new patterns I was working on and their inspiration but in the end it didn’t turn out that way. In fact not a lot turn out the way I was expecting. I will warn that this is a long winded post but there will be pictures.

So this is how thing started…

On my last visit home I found my current favourite dress at Joe Fresh. It is a black knit tank dress with a racer back and double layer front (one is lower cut then the other). I would love another one since I wear it all the time, problem being, the nearest store is about 1,500 km away and the summer stock is gone. So I decided to make my own version but with a twist, literally. Enter one of favourite pattern drafting books, Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi. I have been wanting to try some of the techniques in this book since I got it and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

One of the techniques is called “Nejiri” (meaning torque in Japanese) and involves skewing the pattern so that the fabric will be twisted on the body but still sitting were it should. (i.e. side seams are still straight). I thought this would be a great variation for the front of my dress. The drafting was fun and it went quickly once I got my head around how to create the twist. While I was looking through the book I thought the Kakurenbo (meaning hide and seek) technique of concealing flare in curves would be really cute on a little girls sun-dress. Once again the drafting was fun and went quickly one I got my head around then instructions.

That’s where I was going to end the post along with some pictures of the samples. Well things didn’t continue that’s smoothly.

For starters on my way to Kinkos to pick up the pattern I realized that the outer front pattern piece wasn’t modified enough to achieve the affect I wanted. Doh! I got ready to cut an realized what fabric hogs both patterns were, so I didn’t have enough of my planed fabric. Doh! In the end both patterns didn’t turn out quite as expected or hoped. Doh! 

But…

“Failure is Always an Option”

One of Adam Savage’s better know quotes, he has often talked about this concept be it on Mythbusters or other venues like the Makers Fair in 2009. (His TED talk on Obsession is also really interesting.) I thought of this as I realized that the day wasn’t ending with me propelling fabric across rooms or into walls. I didn’t even have the urge to do that. I decided I think I learn too much.

It is amazing how much the right psychology can completely change a situation. Instead of being terribly frustrated I was excited at what I had learned and eager to try again.

I often draft in my head; try and figure out how I want to draft something long before I put pen to paper (or stylus to tablet as the case may be.) It can be very helpful in finding errors before they are made. In fact this is why I knew the pattern wasn’t done before I picked it up. But I couldn’t do that this time, the concepts were too new so I had no frame of reference for how it would turn out. I love that sort of thing though. Novelty, challenge and something to learn. The sort of thing that you can either know or get.

What I learned:

Nejiri – I ended up making two versions, the printed dress with the twist on both sides and the pink dress with just the outer front layer twisted (the original design).

1 – The twist isn’t big enough to be very noticeable, you can hardly see it in the photos or person. It would also help if the twist was more focused around the waist. As it is, it gets lost on the skirt.

2 – The twist needs tension work. It is fine on the pink dress as the back and under layer control things but this isn’t the case for the printed one. You can kind of see in the photo the side seams uncoiling at the hem since the hem has no tension on it. (This dress was generally cut looser so the whole thing tends to want to unwind.)

Kakurenbo – Pink dress for Mina. The proportion was off some how…

1 – Like with the Nejiri, the effect wasn’t drastic enough. The skirt still has some wave to it but when using such a drapey fabric I think there needed to be more. I may try it in a woven fabric and see how it fits.

2 – This kids knit dress was one of the hardest things I’ve sewn in a while! It did go smoother if I sewed with the skirt on the bottom and bodice on the top. 

After all that, even if it didn’t turn out how I wanted I have a much better understanding of how these patterns work. I am starting to get it not just know it, something that wouldn’t have happened if everything went right. In retrospect failure was the best option.

Later or The Making of a Bikini

Updates

So despite my lack of posting I have been quite busy with projects.

As alluded too in my Coffee Cup Sleeve Tutorial post I have children’s pyjamas in the works. As well there are tights, t-shirts, panties/bloomers and a dress. All are ready or nearly ready for grading. On the adult front I’m working on some dresses (halter dress, sun dress and wrap dress), a halter top and of course I’m still working on the Sunrise hoodie. All the patterns are in various states of drafting and/or correcting. One would think this wouldn’t be the best time to add yet another project but but I really wanted a new bikini…

After not finding what I wanted in stores I decided to make myself a new bikini. I had some great fabric I could use and some not so great fabric I could sample with so I gave it a shot.

First up was the drafting. Although I had a bathing suit block from school it would have to be graded and adjusted before I could use it so I decided it would be easier to start from scratch. Using instructions from Pattern School.com I made patterns for low riding bikini bottoms, bandeau top and two styles of triangle tops (fitted and gathered). After sampling, correcting and sampling I was ready to start the final bikini.

With some careful cutting I was able to easily match the print on the back of the bottoms and bandeau top during construction. Aside from having tension issues on my coverstictch machine and agonizing over the placement of the print it was a relatively quick project over all.

I must admit, this is my favourite bathing suit I own and plan to make more. I also plan on making it my next release! I am aiming for the end of July.