Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Top - Take Five!

Okay, okay. I know I said I was done with Spring Top Week...but you're allowed five entries and it was nagging at me that I had only entered four. I have my dad's blood - competitive to the core. Not that I have the slightest chance of winning - have you seen the other entries? Like this one? Or this one? I think this one is my favorite. Amazing work.

Okay, on to top #5. This top was SO easy to make. It took me less than an hour from cut to finish. It's just a basic pillowcase top - but the fabric is what makes it special.
I found this gorgeous duvet at the thrift store for $1. I knew I could do something with the unique print.

I strategically cut the pieces to make the best use of the pattern, sewed the pieces together, used homemade bias tape for the armholes, hemmed the bottom and sewed a quick strap to loop through the casing.

I was SO sad to cut up this duvet - I love blue (as you can see, I even painted a room of my house that deep blue color I'm so fond of) so I almost thought of saving it for when I get sick of the bedspread in our blue guest room. But it was $1, folks. And I have enough left for at least 3 or 4 things for Maddie.

So, total cost for this top? $.25. Can't beat that.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Top - Take Four!

Unless I'm hit with a sudden burst of inspiration, this will be be my fourth and final entry for Spring Top week. Sewing for Madeline is much easier and much more enjoyable, I gotta tell you. But I've had fun with this "selfish" sewing challenge - and I really do like this fourth top.

It's fun and feminine and Maddie told me I was "bootiful" in it, so that makes it a favorite already.

I cut the yoke on a bias so it's stretchy enough to be a pull over, and added a ruffle for interest. I'll definitely make this style again, it was an easy project and the fabric is one of my favorite Heather Bailey prints.

This was my own design, I didn't use a pattern. I had planned for it to have little puff sleeves, but with the busy print it was a little much. I think it's pretty great as a simple sleeveless summer top!

I may be done with tops for the time being, but I'm not done sewing for myself - I picked up an amazing vintage dress from the thrift store the other week. The fabric is old and yellowed, but the dress is a beautiful fit and will be perfect for a pattern. Yay for thrift store finds!

What's your favorite thing to sew for yourself? I'm all about simple, quick projects, so I love a cute skirt, but I'm branching out here, people! What's your go-to adult pattern?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reversible Sundress Tutorial - and Pattern!

This dress is seriously easy, you guys. So don't let the number of pictures I included in this tutorial indimidate you, I just get a little carried away some times.

Okay, ready to make one super cute, super easy, reversible sundress? This is a beginner tutorial, you can totally make this. And if you're already a seasoned seamstress it's the perfect naptime project. Quick and easy. You know how I love those.

See the reversible side peeking out under the hem? Ah, I love it!

I drew up a pattern for Madeline's dress that you can download here. It fits Maddie well and she's a wearing 18 month - 2T clothes right now. If you need a larger or smaller size, use a dress that fits your daughter well and use that to adapt this pattern to your needs.


1/2 yard each of two different prints - that's 1 yard total folks! You'll need more if you're making a larger size.
1/4 yard of coordinating fabric for the hem, armholes and shoulder ties
Matching thread


Print out the pattern, adjust it to your needs and trace it right onto your fabric. I just use a regular old pen. All the edges are going to be finished, so I never saw the point of using a fabric pen.

Cut out four dress pieces.

Two of each of your main dress fabrics.

Cut five 2 inch strips of your coordinating fabric in following lengths:
(1) 35 inches - for the hem
(2) 14 inches - for the armholes
(2) 24 inches - for the shoulder ties

Now here is where I was originally going to insert another 20 pictures and a bunch of information on making your own bias tape, instead - head over to my bias tape tutorial. I promise, once you learn to make and use bias tape, you'll use it all.the.time.
Okay, fold and press your bias tape strips - and you're ready to start sewing!

Take two matching dress pieces and sew the sides together, right sides together. Repeat with your second set of matching pieces.

Use a zig-zag stitch to reinforce your seams.

Now we're going to make the dress reversible! Turn one of your dresses right side out and leave on of them inside out. Now slip your "inside out dress" inside the "right side out" dress.

The wrong sides of both dresses should now be facing. Carefully smooth your "inside" dress so it fits nicely within the "outside" dress.

Using the instructions from my bias tape tutorial, pin your bias tape to the armholes of your dress.

Stitching close to the edge of your tape, sew the bias tape to the armholes.

Trim the edges of the armholes so they are even with the top of the dress.

Now, you need to decide which side of the dress you want the casing to show on. I decided the floral was already kind of busy, so I flipped the floral side over on the polka dots. Experiment by folding each side down and seeing what you like best.

Fold the top edge of the dress down 1/2 inch. Press.

Fold down another 3/4 of an inch, Press and pin in place. Repeat for other side of dress.

Sew the casing down on both sides of the dress.

Repeat for other side.
Okay, now it's time to sew your ties! Your tape should already be folded and pressed into 1/2 inch strips. Fold your ends in so you're not left with raw edges and sew the ties shut by sewing as close to the edge as possible.

Throw your pretty ties over the back of a chair and they'll be all ready for you once you finish the hem! Almost done!

Pin your last strip of bias tape to your hem.

When you get close to the end, trim the bias tape about an inch longer than you need it for your hem.

Open the tape up and fold one end under to finish the hem. Pin.

Sew your hem in place.

Attach a safety pin the end of one of your shoulder ties.

Thread it through the casing on your neckline.

Repeat with your other tie.
You're done!

As always, you'd make my day if you share a finished project with me!

Oh, and I accidentally grabbed my hem strip instead of one of the ties and sewed it shut, so instead of spending 10 minutes ripping stitches, I tossed it to the side and just cut a new one. Later when I put the dress on my munchkin, I remember my "oops" and grabbed the tie. Turns out 35 inches is the perfect length for a cute little matching headband. Love when that stuff happens!


Linking up at the following parties!

The Shabby Nest

A Few of my Favorite Things

Fingerprints on the Fridge

Amy Lou Who

Somewhat Simple

Sew Dang Cute

Sew Can Do

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bias Tape 101: a tutorial

While I was working on the tutorial for the reversible sundress, I realized the pictures and instructions for the bias tape was becoming a tutorial all it's own. So here we go - Bias Tape 101.

A lot of this information is going to be very basic with loads of pictures, because we all learn better that way, right?

First of all, what is the bias of a fabric? Very simply, the bias just refers to the direction of the fabric at a 45 degree angle, diagonally, across the fabric. So if you took a square piece of fabric and drew a line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner that line would be across the bias of the fabric.

Let's do a little object lesson. Go grab a piece of cotton fabric. Go ahead, I'll wait....Got it? Okay, now give it a little tug holding your hands vertical. Not much give, right? Now try it holding your hands horizontal. A little more, but still not too stretchy. Now try to stretch it holding your hands on the corners and tugging diagonally. Nice and stretchy, right? THAT is the bias of the fabric.

Bias tape is a thin strip of fabric cut on the bias and folded in a particular way. More on the folding later. It's used mainly for finishing hems, armholes and can be used as the edging in blankets and a multitude of other things. Because of it's stretchy nature, it's much better suited for manipulating it around curves. Fabric cut along the grainline usually doesn't have as much flexibility.

Before I get any further, let me mention that you can buy bias tape - and if you're using it for the first time, I'd recommend that. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes and you can find it pretty much anywhere. But if you have a pair of scissors and an iron, you can make bias tape very easily.

Okay, let's get started. Pretend I'm cutting this fabric on the bias. Confession: I hate, hate, hate cutting fabric on a bias. It wastes so much fabric and you have to measure pretty precisely to get a nice even cut. So if my fabric has a decent amount of give along the grainline, I just go ahead and cut it this way. It just so happens that this particular cotton was pretty stretchy along the grainline. If you're using the tape to close a sharp curve, you will want to actually cut on the bias. We'll just call my tape grainline tape...ahem.

I cut my strips 2 inches wide - we'll be making double fold bias tape, so we'll end up with 1/2 inch finished tape. Your finished tape will be 1/4 of your original strip width, so if you're looking for 1 inch tape, you'd need to cut your fabric strip 4 inches wide. Make sense? Okay, moving right along...Cut your strip or strips as long as you need them for your project.

Okay, now this is really, really important. Take your strip and lay it right side down on your ironing board. Fold it in half leaving about a 1/16 inch overlap on one side. You can measure if you want, I just eyeball it.

Press to set the fold, making sure you keep your tiny overlap in place.

Now open up your newly creased bias tape and fold the outside edges in towards the crease you just made.

Because your first crease line is slightly off center, You should have one fold that is slightly longer than the other, like the photo below. Now press those folds in place, moving your hands and folding as you work your way down the strip:

Now fold the strip in half, right on the original crease line you made- you should have a little overlap where the edges don't quite meet. That's perfect, and you'll see why in a minute. Press, press, and press some more. Make those creases nice and defined.

Your bias (ummm, grainline..) tape is ready to be used!

Head to your sewing area. For illustration purposes, I cut two small scraps of fabric on a gentle curve.

Open up your tape.

Okay, now we are going to sandwich the raw edges of that curve inside this bias tape.

So open up your tape and place the wrong side of your fabric on top of the longer fold.

Fold the short fold side of your tape over, sandwiching your raw edges inside the tape.

Pin in place. I can't emphasis pinning enough. Normally, I don't pin if I don't have too, I'm a lazy seamstress, but bias tape - especially along a curve - really needs to be pinned!

Work your way along your raw edges, opening your tape and making sure your edges are pushed as close to the inner crease of the tape as possible and pinning as you go.

Once your tape is all pinned, head to your machine!
Start stitching as close to the edge as you comfortably can.
Here you can see how close I came to my edge:

Now remember, because that longer fold is on the opposite side, we're easily catching it with these stitches. If the folds were exactly the same length, you *might* be catching it, but you'd probably end up with some missed spots. That teeny little overlap is your "wiggle room" and gives you a perfectly finished seam on both sides of your garment:

Easy peasy, right?

There are a lot of ways to sew bias tape - so I'm not claiming to have the perfect method, but this is what works for me, so I thought I'd share.

Did I leave something out? Have questions? Am I speaking gibberish? Leave me a comment or email me!

Next up: The perfect project to put your new bias tape skills to the test, The Reversible Sundress!