Friday, June 29, 2012

Little Diva in Red Ruffle Swimsuit

This suit was inspired by my favorite Baby Lulu swimsuit, a cute little forties boyshort suit that came in Baby Lulu's signature fabrics.  I still adore Baby Lulu, but it's a little out of reach for us pricewise now that we have four little girls in the house. 

The tutorial for the shoes can be found here, and the swim cap tutorial will be coming soon.  You may want to subscribe, using the button at the right, if you don't want to miss it.

I'm having trouble deciding who this suit belongs to, since it can be worn by both my 4-month old and my two-year old.  They wear a 3-6 months and size 24 months.  The suit adjusts with the shoulder ties and will grow with your little one, so you may get a few seasons of wear.  (Update:  Baby girl is now 6 months, wearing a 12 months, and I've decided the suit does belong to her rather than Little Diva.  Little Diva's suit from last year still fits.  And I snagged another suit for her crazy cheap off the Gap clearance rack.)

If I had to slap a size label onto this suit, I'd go down the middle and say it is an 18 months.  Keep in mind that any measurements I give you here will be what I used for my 18-month suit, but you can easily adapt to other sizes.  I'll start scanning in and uploading patterns just as soon as I know how, but this suit is basically just a rectangle, so you'll be able to make your own pattern easily.

I just drew up the basic pattern and added ruffles. I'm looking forward to adding different embellishments to the same basic pattern to adapt the suit for the other girls.  It has so many possibilities.  You could even just leave it plain, and you'd be done in no time.  Originally I wanted to make the suit black with white ruffles and add a white flower, but since I decided to use it for the Project Run & Play sew along during the week of the color theme, I thought I'd better simply go with red.

I measured from right under Little Diva's arm (armpit) to crotch (I hate that word.) then added about an inch and a half for seam allowance and hem.  I measured around little one's chest, then divided by two to get the width of my pattern. 

To draw your pattern, make a rectangle 13 inches by 4 1/4 inches.  Draw a straight line in about 1 1/2 inches for the crotch, then draw a line for your leg opening that goes from where the crotch ends to the side seam of the suit, tapering up about an inch.  Don't worry.  This does not need to be an exact science. 

Cut out front of swimsuit on the fold.

Cut two of the back side of swimsuit.
Sew the center back seam and the side seams, so you have a big tube.  Sew across the crotch.  I tried the suit on little one at this point to see how I liked the fit.  I wanted the boy-short fit.  If you want higher openings at the legs, you can mark where you want the openings to hit (Remember to allow for seam allowance.) and further cut the openings.

Turn under and hem around the top of the suit as well as the leg openings.  You only need to fold over once, since the knit fabric will not fray.

I inserted clear elastic (purchased at Joanne's) into the hems.  I did not stretch it as I was inserting. I think I'm actually going to skip the elastic on the legs next time around and see what happens.

The hems did become a bit wavy.  Oh well, you can't tell when the suit is on, and it ends up covered by ruffles anyway.

Cut four strips approximately 9 inches by 3 inches.  These will be your straps.

Fold in half and sew up long ways, then close one end.  You can sew straight across or at an angle like I did depending on the finished look you want.

Turn your strips inside out, and you have your straps. 

Attach your straps to the suit.  Just use a top stitch or a zig zag on your sewing machine.  I used a zig zag because I didn't want to keep messing with the settings on my serger. 

I attached my front straps approximately 2 inches in from the side seam and attached my back straps approximately 2 3/4 inches in from the side seam. 

I determined the position of the straps by trying the suit on little one and safety pinning the straps in place where I thought they looked right.  Then I replaced the pins with straight pins.

For the leg ruffles, cut two strips approximately 1 inch by 33 inches.  You don't need to finish the edges at all but if you want yours to look like mine you can finish the edges with a tight zig zag or rolled hem, then sew a gathering stitch up the middle and pull one of your threads to form a ruffle.  (I just used the longest straight stitch on my machine.)

I attached my ruffles to the legs with a zig-zag stitch, set on the third zig zag over and a stitch length of 3.  I pinned the heck out of the ruffles when I attached them.  I folded under the end of the ruffle where I began sewing and left the last little bit unpinned.  Every once and a while as I went along I lifted my presser foot to adjust the ruffles where they were getting smooshed or bunched up a bit. 

When I approached the end, I cut off a little bit of excess ruffle then folded the end over so it met right up with where my ruffle began. Then I finished sewing, overlapping my stitches a bit with where my stitches had begun.

Form your top ruffle the same as your leg ruffles.  I just sewed the gathering stitch closer to the edge of the ruffle.  I also rounded the ends of this ruffle.  Instead of folding the ends under, I overlapped them in the front.

Pull your threads to the back, tie and cut them.  You're done!  Stay tuned.  The tutorial for the swim cap is coming soon.  And, in case you missed it, the shoe tutorial is over here.

So I wrote this two months ago, then life got extra insane, and I never posted it because the tutorial still needs work.  However, I'm going to go ahead and just put it up.  Maybe it will still be useful to someone, and hopefully you'll forgive my imperfection.  If you have questions, please ask, especially if they'll help someone else.

Friday, May 11, 2012

This week's theme for the Project Run and Play sew-along challenge asked us to find inspiration from the movies.  Breakfast at Tiffany's opens with Audrey Hepburn wearing an elegant black dress that flows from a circular collar. The dress is accessorized with a strand of pearls. My girl would eat those pearls if they were left in loose strands, but I thought I could mimic the look by attaching beads to the dress.

I envisioned a black dress with a satiny circle collar covered in faux pearls. Then when I couldn't find anything in my pile of castoff shirts that would work for the fabric, I headed off to the store. I'd already found my satin and was about to throw some black knit into the cart, when some fabric across the aisle caught my eye.

It was this wispy (polyester of all things) green with polk-a-dots fabric that had a gorgeous drape. Back went the black, and into the cart went the green polk-a-dot. Then I got to thinking about the beads. Pearls would work, but this dress was calling for some brown beads with character. Trouble One showed me some wooden buttons she really likes on one of her sweaters, and I thought, "That's it. That's the look we go for." I found some brown beads that came sort of close to the look, but I also grabbed some green stones.

Now I was going to tell you about how Tiffany's is where you go if you want to buy a rock, so I embellished the dress with rocks. But really Trouble One just happened to want these green stones on her dress instead of the brown ones, so I went with it. But check it out, I didn't have any buttons that really worked for the back closure, so I used a rock instead--and the jewelery stringing stuff (What do you call it?) for the loop. Hey, when it's midnight you make do with what you have.

Okay, so the dress doesn't look much like Audrey. But the idea was to find inspiration in the movie, right? Not to copy it. At least not necessarily. And, I don't know, it's kind of classic, isn't it? Aside from the rocks. Maybe Audrey would have liked it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Little Diva in Red DIY Leather Flower Sandals

The theme this week for Project Run & Play was color.  My little swim ensemble consists of a boyshort swimsuit, swim cap and thong/flip-flop sandals.  I've never participated in a sew-along before, and I have no expectation of winning the sew-along challenge, but I'm finding the weekly deadline motivates me to get done today what I could put off until tomorrow.

I hope you are impressed by this outfit, but let me tell you, you shouldn't be.  I'm really just a beginner.  I don't sew with patterns because I am too cheap to buy them.  Or I want to make something for which I can find no pattern.  Or I'm just too lazy to read the directions.  So I make it up.  Sometimes it goes as planned, sometimes (usually) it evolves as we go.  This time (shockingly), it all went pretty much as planned. 

I tell you this business about being a beginner, because I want you to look at this little outfit and know that you can make it too.  No special skills required.  I'm going to share with you how I made each of these pieces, so if you want, you can give it a whirl.

First up, the shoes. Little Diva is always tromping around in all the big people flip flops at our house, so I thought I'd make her some of her own. I'm jumping up and down with excitement, because I think I've found the perfect solution to stabilize diy shoes, while keeping the soles flexible. Vinyl floor tiles! They are sturdy and made for walking on, so why not try them in shoes?

There were several thicknesses of vinyl floor tiles available at Lowes. I purchased one of the thicker tiles but not the thickest. The tile you choose should be fairly sturdy but have some flexibility for comfort when walking. My tile cost 88 cents. The cheapest was around 33 cents, and I think if you doubled it up it might work. My 88 cent tile was enough for a few pair of toddler shoes.  I used real leather, because about 10 years ago at the height of my Ebay obsession I purchased a cow hide.  I don't know why.  I must have just thought I'd use it for something crafty.  And look, I finally have.  It's the perfect time to find discarded leather jackets at the thrift store, or you could cut up an old purse.  But faux leather or another fairly sturdy material would work just fine too.  The beauty of using that floor tile is that you don't have to depend on the stability of the leather.  If you count just the portion of the materials that I used, I probably made these little shoes for around $1.  And that, my friends, is why I DIY!

Okay, are you ready to make some?  Here we go:

Leather (or canvas, faux leather, fabric-covered vinyl, etc.)
Paint (optional)
Square of vinyl flooring tile with self-adhesive backing
Exacto knife or box cutter
Shoes for pattern making (or just trace your little one's foot)
Upholstery Thread

1) I traced the sole of a pair of sandals we already own.  Since they are getting a little small, I cut about a quarter of an inch outside of the line I traced.

2) Use your pattern to cut out two sets of sole shapes from your leather.

3) Now cut two more sets of sole shapes approximately 1/4 inch smaller than your leather soles.  (Sorry I know you can't see the marks.)

4)  Trace your pattern onto the backing of your vinyl tile.

5)  Cut out two sole shapes from the vinyl tile.  I was happy to find that I could cut the vinyl with regular old scissors.  I had thought we might have to use the jigsaw.  Not that you couldn't use a jig saw.  I know that you could.  It's just that not everyone may have one (but you should, oh the things you can build.).  Notice anything about that picture of the vinyl backing?  Yeah, somehow I have my vinyl soles going the same way.  As Dozer, aka Little Diva, would say, whoopsie!  But thankfully they will be hidden, so it doesn't matter which side faces up.

6)  Cut from your leather 4 strips to form your straps. I cut mine approximately 5 1/2 inches by 5/8 inches.

So now you should have everything pictured at left.  Four leather sole pieces, two vinyl sole pieces, and four leather strips.

You see that strap in the lower right corner?  I tapered the strap that goes between the toes, so that it was about half its original width at the end.  I think this makes them lay better, and it is less leather between those little toes.  However, I don't think it is necessary to do that for the project to work out.

7) Find the correct placement for your straps by wrapping them around your little one's foot. You want your outside strap to come fully under your inside strap, so that only one of them ends up between the toes.  If you look at the photo to the left (Yikes, try to ignore the peeling toddler pedicure on that sweet little foot!), you can see that only one of those straps ends up going between her toes.  Allow yourself an extra 1/2 inch on your strap between the toes, so that you can fold it under and attach it to the sole.

8) Once you have them positioned, glue or sew your two straps together.  Or do both to make them extra secure.   I glued the straps, then once the glue dried, I sewed along the entire length of each strap.  My leather was pretty thick, and where I was sewing through two layers, I had to give it a little nudge through the feed dogs and turn the wheel by hand to get the needle through both layers.

9) Cut a slit in the top layer of your sole.

10) Feed that center leather piece down through the slit and fold about a 1/2 inch under where your little one's big toe goes.  Sew the strap in place.  Now catch that wriggly little foot again. Try on the sandal and decide where you want the straps attached at the sides. 

11) Make a sandwich with leather sole on top, vinyl sole in the middle and your other leather sole piece on the bottom.
12)  I held one side in position with a paper clip while I started sewing on the strap on the other side.    Sew around the entire outside of your shoe about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge.   Go slowly, and be careful, because if you end up ripping out stitches, you will see the holes left in the leather from the needle.  Make sure you are only sewing leather and not catching the vinyl in your machine.  Repeat for the other shoe, and that's it.  You're done!

You can embellish by adding a flower, ruffles, bows.  There are so many possibilities.  You could even attach fun buttons, like a car or a boat for little boys.  I did the big red flower by cutting three circles of different sizes (I just traced the stuff you see in the photo at left to make the circles), painting them with acrylic paint and sewing them together by hand.  I think I'm going to try swapping them for different flowers though.  I want to try making some molded leather roses.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

I got the best compliment on these shoes.  My almost nine-year-old asked me to make a pair for her.  I'm not sure about the exposed leather on the bottom with as rough as she is on shoes, but I think with another trip to the hardware store, I can come up with a solution to make these work for big girls too.  I'll let you know.  If  you have any ideas, please let me know.

This post is part of Get Your Craft on at Today's Creative Blog and Penny Pinching Party.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, April 27, 2012

T-shirt and Dress Upcycle

Upcycles, repurposes...whatever you want to call them, they are kind of my thing.  Alot of folks in the blogpsphere say how frugal or thrifty they are, but I won't tiptoe around it.  I'm just plain cheap.  I love using what I have to make something new for free.  The challenge this week for the Sew Along over on Project Run and Play was an Earth Day Challenge.  And my earth-friendly approach was to reuse what we already have.

I took an old stained with holes in it T-shirt and combined it with a paint-splattered dress. I added to that fabric scraps from the fitted crib sheet I made for Dozer.

Scroll down for details on how I made this:

First I cut off the sleeves and the bottom of the T-shirt.

Then I salvaged some paint-free areas of the hem from the dress, which I fashioned into the bell sleeves.

I cut out part of the dress lining and sewed that into a channel, which I filled with elastic and attached to the shirt, joining the top and bottom pieces of the shirt back together. 

I had this after adding the sleeves and the channel under the bodice. I gathered the sleeves by attaching them with elastic thread. Elastic thread is my cheater method for just about any gathering that I may do. Perfectly spaced gathers every time.

I sewed a circle skirt from my scraps, then placed my top and skirt wrong sides together and sewed them at the waist.  I flipped right sides together, ironed and sewed again so that my raw edge was encased in a french seam. (I also pieced the circle skirt with french seams.)
Now here is the really glorious part:  I finished the hem on the circle skirt with a rolled hem using my brand new serger that I got for my birthday.  I'm so excited to have a serger.  I just can't even tell you.  I never would have bought it for myself, but I am so thrilled that hubby was overly generous this year!  I mean really generous, because we often don't even purchase gifts for one another.  All those pinched pennies usually go toward the kids.

Don't worry if you don't have a serger though.  You can just do a tight zig-zag stitch around your hem for the same effect.  Or use fabric glue to attach a ribbon to the bottom of the skirt.  That's what I did on the little peasant dress here.  If you need help making a circle skirt, feel free to ask, but  I learned here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Yoga Suit Tutorial Part One

The sew along to the Project Run and Play sportswear challenge pushed me to try something new.  I do sew with knits because of the comfort factor.  I learned the clothes I make will just hang in the closet if they aren't cozy enough for play.  But even as I ventured into sewing knits, I stuck to making dresses.  With this challenge I decided to undertake my first pair of pants.  This was also my first time sewing a hood, first time sewing cargo pockets (or pockets at all actually) and first time using a double needle.  It was a definite learning experience. 

Are you familiar with the double needle? When you use one, your plain jane sewing machine can turn out this:

It was great because I could sew on knit without using a zig-zag stitch that screams homemade (I actually consider it a compliment if people think my work came from a store.), so the finish was more tailored.  You have two rows on top, with a zig-zag on the bottom, so you still have the needed stretch.  My problem was that my machine was prone to skipping stitches here and there.  You can see them if you look closely at the pic.  And the thread was prone to tangle, so I had to re-thread over, and over.  And over.  It took a really long time because there was so much top stitching.  But overall I'm really happy with the outcome, and I will definitely use the double needle again.  The key was to go slow and not let the bobbin get close to running out.  When the bobbin neared the end, the thread tangled and knotted.

I drafted my overall pattern by tracing (or at least using the basic shape) a much-loved and much-stained pair of pants that fit my daughter a tad too snugly and adding in the seam allowance and room for growth.  I just folded them in half and traced.  First the front.

And then the back.  Make sure you pull out that extra fabric in the back--you know, the pointy part.

I cut out two pockets like this.  To make my pattern for the pocket, I started with a rectangle piece of paper cut to the size I wanted my pocket.  I used a glass to make the rounded edge on the outside, then free handed the inside.  The top of the pocket will be encased in the waist of the pants, and the right side will be encased in the side seam.  Keep that in mind when determining the size of your pattern piece.  If I can figure out how to make it actual size, I'll upload the pattern I used.

I made my own binding using strips of my knit jersey.  I used this method here for the binding.

 I attached the binding on the inside curve of both pockets, and pinned the binding in place on the outside curve.
You can't see it very well but I sewed the bottom layer of the binding to the pocket.

You can see what I mean a little better in this picture.

Then I folded over the top of my binding and sewed the binding onto the pocket and the pocket onto the pants all in one swoop.
I did this times two.

With the front pockets attached, I sewed the front and back piece of the pants together, encasing the side of the pocket.

I didn't get pics of the process, but I made the cargo pockets like you'd make a pillow or a coaster.  For one pocket I cut two rectangles with rounded corners.  I placed wrong sides together, sewed around the edges, leaving a small hole on one side.  Then I turned the pocket right side out and pressed it.  The flap was the same process.

I  centered my pocket on the side seam by folding it in half and placing it right up against the seam.  I placed the top of this pocket about two inches below the bottom of the front pocket.  If you look closely, you can see that I've also topstitched across the top of the pocket prior to attaching it.

You can see the stitching better here. 

Pin in place.

I sewed very carefully and slowly around the edges.  I sewed as close to the edge as possible.

I centered my flaps the same way I centered the pocket.

I placed the flap right against the pocket with right side facing down and sewed it on.

Then I flipped the flap down into place and ironed it.  (I never use my iron except to sew.)

And topstitched.

Now it looks like this.

I turned each of the pant legs inside out, so the right sides were together.  

Then I sewed up the inseam.

So it looks like this.  Of course, you're doing everything twice, so you would have two pant legs that look like this.

I flipped one of the pant legs right side out.

Then stuffed it inside the other pantleg.

...and sewed the crotch seam from the front of the waist to the back of the waist.  If you're in doubt at this point, pin your pant legs together and turn them right side out just to make sure you have everything assembled correctly.  If you need help, Simply Modern Mom has a pajama pant tutorial here with great photos.

 Now you have this.
For the waistband I cut a big rectangle.  Then my picture taking lapsed.   I will try to explain. The length of the rectangle (Make sure the stretch goes long-ways.) is a few inches shorter than my daughter's waist. 1.) I folded in half, so the rectangle is just as long but skinnier.  2.) I sewed the edge so that I had a tube.  3.)  I turned the tube right side out.  4.)  I sewed the ends together to close the loop. From An Igloo offers a different (better) take on the foldover waistband here.

I centered the seam of waistband in the back, pinned and sewed the waistband to the pants.  You should have to stretch the waistband a bit to fit it to the pants.  Also, make sure you attached the band so that the "wrong" side of your seam is on the inside of the fold, when you fold down your waistband.

Whew, are you still with me?  This is my first major tutorial, so let me know if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Next up is the yoga set hoodie, but I think we may have to save Part 2 for another day.