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.