May 10, 2012

Children's Dresses, Skirts and Applique Tutorials

I've started making "custom" outfits for our baby girl to wear on our next trip to Disney World. I'd also like to make a few things for the boy but boy clothes are harder for me. I'm kind of limited to shirts because I'm not really a fan of the character shorts and to be honest, for the price, I can buy him a pair of super cute cargo shorts from Old Navy cheaper than making them. The problem with shirts for him is that button down shirts with all the buttons and the collar and all that intimidate me. I like to make my own patterns or use online tutorials as my guide and I just don't know if I could do that for him. Anyway, I've done some applique stuff so he's not left out but I hope to do more for him soon.

In the meantime, here's what I've managed to do for the girl. Wherever possible, I've added links to online tutorials that have helped me along the way in addition to my own simple breakdown of what I did.

Sorry about the picture quality...they're all from my phone because I just haven't had time to sit down and really photograph the outfits.

This (and two others just like it...a purple Tinkerbell and a blue Ariel) were the simplest dresses I've made. I bought the fabric pre-ruched so all I had to do was purchase 1/2 yard (our daughter is 12 months) of each and then measure how long I wanted it. I could have cut out the excess fabric from the middle but instead I folded the Minnie Mouse area over itself a couple times and sewed both at the top and the bottom of the folds which provided me with the desired length without leaving an unsightly edge. I then sewed the two sides together and simply added a ribbon to the top as halter straps (personal preference and in order to ensure that the dress doesn't slide down too far).

I'm not sure if we'll use any of the pre-ruched dresses for Disney because they're just not as nice as some of the others but I suspect they'll be great back up dresses for those days when the girl has a messy meal or a diaper failure. The best part about these dresses is that I can let out the length as she grows and eventually just add leggings and they can be shirts (assuming they don't get stained or torn between now and then).

This is one of my FAVORITES! I used an online tutorial I found via a search on pinterest. Jessica from Happy Together wrote an excellent tutorial for a Modern Sailor Dress. I adjusted the sizing and the fabrics to make what I think is a super cute Minnie Mouse dress. You'll notice it's a bit big on our princess but since our trip is still four months away, I think it will be perfect. 

I'm also thinking about adding black iron-on embroidery letters (because, alas, I do not yet have an embroidery machine...hint, hint Joshua...or Mom...or anyone) to the top red/white polka-dotted section which would read: "Minnie Mouse" and top it off with pigtails and the new Minnie Mouse ears hair clips that we bought from the Disney Store...

I was happily surprised to see how well the reds match up (although it's not showing it as well in the pics). 

The next outfit I made was a last minute thing for the girl to wear to a traveling dinosaur exhibit. (The boy already had a ton of dino shirts but the girl was lacking and I had some extra fabric). 

I did the skirt "off the cuff" as it were but there's a million skirt tutorials online. 
What I did was yet again take a piece of our son's large sketch pad paper (butcher paper would work great too). Here's a sample of what it sort of looked like...(I tossed the actual "pattern" when I was done...sorry)
A-9 1/2 did I get that?
I measured our daughter's waist (17 1/2 inches) added an inch and a half for comfort and stitch allowance (19 inches) and divided it by two-for the front and back (9 1/2)
B-8 1/2 inches...why did I do that?
I wanted it to be 8 inches long and I added 1/2" for 1/4" seam allowance at both the top and bottom
C-1 1/2 inches...what is that?
The waist line allowance (I had 1/2 inch non-roll elastic)-it was folded over so the waist line itself ended up being 3/4 inch which still left 1/4 for seam allowance
D-1 1/2 inches each...what is that for?
To give the skirt a more A-line appearance.

Step 1...make your pattern (see above example)
Step 2...using your pattern, cut two pieces of flowered (or whatever fabric you choose) and two pieces of white (or whatever lining you want)
Step 3...with right sides together sew the bottom of the front to the bottom of the front lining (there should be no difference in size between front back and lining pieces but you fabric pattern may make a difference in what you want where)
Step 4...with right sides together sew front to the back (all the up one side and only up through half of the waist line on the other-leaving you room to insert your elastic)
Step 5...fold the waist line over so wrong sides are facing each other and sew
Step 6...insert the elastic and sew ends together (I use a safety pin to help me guide it through)
 Step 7...hand sew the open spot where you inserted your elastic.
Done with the skirt.


Either print or draw the design you want. I googled dinosaur images and then sketched the silhouette onto card stock and cut it out. You can also use stencils. 
Take some Heat and Bond Iron-On Adhesive (which you can find at any fabric store or online) and cut a square or circle or whatever shape you want that is slightly larger than the applique design. The Heat and Bond will be two side shiny, the other is covered in paper. Shiny side down, iron the Heat and Bond to the fabric according to the Heat and Bond instructions. 
Either stencil, trace or free hand your drawing to the Heat and Bond paper (remember if you're doing letters or numbers to reverse them)
Cut out the applique.
Remove the paper.
Place it on the shirt (or whatever fabric you are appiquing) and iron according the Heat and Bond instructions.
Heat and Bond will not keep you applique attached alone. You have to then stitch around your applique to hold it in place permanently. 

My Favorite.

This dress was actually really simple.

First I did the top similar to the top on the red Minnie Mouse dress except that instead of having the front and back be equal lengths, I wanted the back more open. 
I ended up with the front being 10" x 6 1/2" (with a slight notch cut for the arms/shoulders...about 1 1/2 inches over and 2 inches down but I just eyeballed it-be sure to fold your pattern in half when you make the arm cuts so that they are exactly the same especially if you eye ball it like me).
The back was 10" x 3 1/2" and needed nothing for the arms because it was so low.  
Cut two pieces for the front and two pieces for the back.
Sew the back together along the top with right sides together.
Sew your straps (mine were each 3" x 14" folded in half)  along the long edge and top then turn it right side out and iron flat
With right sides together and the straps inserted, sew the top edge and halfway down each side of the front (because the back is lower). If you're uncertain about the strap placement, refer to Happy Together's tutorial under the red Minnie Mouse dress.
Since my back and front pieces were each 10" I made the first layer 12 1/2 inches long each (cut two-front and back or four if you want it to be lined or thicker which I prefer) because I've found a 25% increase gives me the desired ruffled...make it longer for more of a ruffle or shorter for less. The height was based on the total length I wanted divided by the number of layers so in this case was 3 1/2 inches.
Sew a simple straight line base stitch along the top of each strip with the longest stitch your machine allows (mine's a 5 and works great) leaving plenty of excess thread at the start and finish of you stitching
Take ONE of the loose threads at an end and pull. Be sure you are only pulling one thread. It doesn't matter if it was the bobbin thread or the top thread. Pull it until it ruffles and push the ruffles around to the desired length and then pin the ruffled fabric (right sides together, as always) to your top. 
Sew them together. 
Repeat for the back.
Repeat the same process for the next layer...for me that meant the next layer was about 15 1/2 inches long and still 3 1/2 high.
The final layer is similar in that it was still about a 25% increase in length bringing it to about 21 inches but instead of still being 3 1/2 inches long, I made it 7 so I could just fold it in half and not have to have an exposed hem.


JG said...

Oh my goodness you inspire me! The whole reason I wanted a sewing machine is to make my own clothes. These look fantastic!

Milwife Mama of One said...

LOVE these! The clothes are so cute and I'm sure they look great on your adorable kids! If you haven't already found it, this lady has tons of free tutorials including many for boys' clothes. She makes the projects seem manageable :).