Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Skirting the Issue: My Thoughts and What I've Finished So Far

If you aren't yet familiar with the event being hosted by Simple Simon & Co called Skirting the Issue, I would really recommend that you click the link and read about it.  It's such a fantastic outreach and I know there are girls all over the country who are going to be blessed by the beautiful skirts being donated.

This project really got me thinking.  My family isn't rich by any stretch of the imagination, yet our girls have so much.  Their closet and dresser are both filled to the breaking point with clothes.  Some of it is new, some of it is from a children's resale and some of it is handmade by me, but there is a LOT of it.  Neat rows of sweet little matching outfits wait for one of the girls to choose each morning...and so many choices!  But when you go beyond clothes, to the heart of what this project is really about, our girls are rich in so many other ways.  They have a Mommy & Daddy at home.  They are showered with love, hugs and kisses day and night.  They are doted on by grandparents and friends.  Even if they only had a few things to wear, they would still know how much they are loved.  For some of the girls in the foster care system, none of these things are true.  I know there are wonderful, loving foster parents out there who are devoting their lives to giving kids a family, but I also know there are boys and girls who live each day not knowing they are loved.  Not knowing they are beautiful and special.  Not knowing they are a son or daughter of God.  

So, where does all this rambling leave me?  If hand making a skirt and donating it to a sweet girl in foster care gives her one glimmer of hope that she is beautiful, unique, special and loved, it makes me want to make a skirt for every girl I can.  The woman I've been in touch with at a local foster care agency said "Many of these girls struggle to have self-value and have low self-esteem."  Can you take an hour and some fabric and put a smile on a little girl's face?  I know I can.

Okay, now that you've lasted through my sermon, on to the pictures.  Here's what I've accomplished so far!

A pair of sweet little pink bubble skirts, made with Simple Simon's tutorial.  I added a patchwork trim and I think they're so fun!  Sizes 7 and 4T.

A sunny yellow gingham skirt with eyelet trim and bow embellishment.  Such a happy skirt :)  Size 4T.

One of my favorites - a simple elastic waist skirt, but the stripwork makes it more fun!  I used Ruby by Bonnie & Camille for Moda which is just gorgeous.  Size 6.
For the older girls, a pair of tribal print maxi skirts with a lettuce hem.  Sizes 14 and 16.

A pink and white cascading ruffle skirt made using Lil Blue Boo's tutorial.  A great way to upcycle knits!  Size 6.

Another favorite - a denim faux wrap skirt with a big flower applique and ruffled waistband.  Very practical but super cute!  Size 8.

A close up of the applique.

That's what I have done so far!  I have a couple more planned and will be working on those in the next week.  It's so fun and such an inspiration to see all these awesome creations in the flickr group.  I know all these skirts will be truly appreciated.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July, She Will Fly...

The old Simon & Garfunkel song "April, Come She Will" has been running through my head for the past week as July has been disappearing before my eyes - "July, she will fly and give no warning to her flight."  Why does summer always go so fast? 

I've been busy sewing and having summer fun with the girls, although I don't have much to show you right now!  One of my major projects has been sewing up some skirts for Simple Simon's Skirting the Issue.  I'm ready to photograph and share, but this insane midwest drought has finally been broken by some rain, so we're indoors for now!

I've also been making and posting a bunch of new dresses for my Etsy shop, which has been a lot of fun!  I think this one is my favorite!  The fabric is from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection and the pattern is Little Lizard King's knot dress.

Photo courtesy Shannon Miller Photography

In other news, I am so grateful to have a handy husband!  I won't get into technical details, but my sewing machine was having a serious issue and I was pretty concerned it wasn't fixable.  My awesome hubby, who has probably never even touched a sewing machine in his life, took a quick look and had it fixed in 5 minutes!  Woohoo!  So, a big online shout out to my hubby - thanks honey!  You're awesome!

I promise I'll have more sewing stuff for you the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Project Run & Play Guest Post

I posted this tutorial over at Project Run & Play awhile back - it's the perfect dress for hot summer days and family barbecues!

Hello fellow Project Run & Play fans!  I'm Amanda and I blog over at Double Stitching.  I'm so honored to be here today!  I LOVE what Elizabeth & Liz have done with this competition and I'm already excited for next season!

My husband and I have identical twin daughters who turned two this spring and I love making dresses for them!  In the summer, I think it's so nice to have a dress that's comfortable for a little girl to play in while still looking adorable and is also quick for mama (or grandma or whoever!) to sew.  Since I have to make two of everything, I'm all about simple and fast!  Today I'm going to share with you a sweet little dress that is perfect for summer!

This dress is so easy to customize and you don't even need a pattern!  Plus your little one will be happy and comfy because she can still run, jump and do everything else a kid should do without losing her "belle of the ball" status :)


For the dress:
- 3/4 - 1 yard main fabric (depending on size)
- 1/2 yard coordinating fabric (for all sizes)
- 1" wide elastic, cut to your child's chest measurement plus 1"
- sewing stuff (thread, scissors or rotary cutter/mat, machine)

For the flower pin/brooch (optional):
- scraps of coordinating fabric (enough to cut 6 circles, each 3" in diameter)
- button, at least 3/4" diameter (plastic or fabric covered)
- scrap of felt 
- hot glue gun OR hand sewing needle & thread

You will just need two measurements to make this dress - chest and length.  For the chest measurement, measure all the way around the chest, right beneath the armpit.  For the length, measure from just under the armpit down to the knee (or wherever you want the dress to fall).

From your main fabric, cut one piece from selvedge to selvedge by whatever your length measurement was.  For a 2T, I cut 18" and for a size 6, I cut 23".  For my exceptionally tall 2 year olds, I cut 20" and it falls below the knee now (but they might be able to wear it next year...fingers crossed!).

From your coordinating fabric, cut one piece from selvedge to selvedge that is 9" long (for all sizes).  This will be the bottom band.  For the straps, cut 2 pieces from your coordinating fabric.  For the halter style straps, I cut mine 26" long and 4" wide.  If you prefer regular straps, I would cut them about 10" long.  You can always cut off excess later.  (Note all my pieces are still folded in this picture.)

Using a 1/2" seam allowance, stitch both your main fabric and bottom band fabric right sides together along the selvedge edge (short sides).  This will be your center back seam.  You can finish the seam if you like.  I personally prefer the way it looks, but the selvedge edges won't fray if you leave it unfinished.

Fold the bottom band piece in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.  Press with your iron.

Now slip the bottom band up over the main dress piece, matching up your center back seam and lining up the raw edges.  Pin in place and stitch with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Finish the seam by serging, zig zag stitching, or trimming with pinking shears.  Flip the band down and press the seam up towards the dress.  Topstitch 1/8" from the seam.


Fold the top edge of the dress over 1/4" all the way around and press.  As you can see, I tend to eyeball this measurement :)

The next part you will definitely want to measure!  Fold the top of the dress over 3 1/4" inches (so make marks at 6 1/2" and fold to that line) and press.  This will give you a 2" ruffle at the top, a 1" casing for your elastic and 1/4" of wiggle room.

Stitch this down, close to the edge, leaving about 3" open to insert your elastic.

Next you need to make a line of stitches that will be the top of your elastic casing/bottom of your ruffle.  On my machine, there is a convenient screw hole that is 2" from the needle.  If you don't have any marks on your machine that you can use, you can make a temporary guide with a piece of masking tape or even make a mark with a sharpie if you think you might use a 2" guide often enough.

Stitch 2" down from the top of your fold all the way around the top of the dress.

Use a safety pin to feed your elastic through the lower casing.  Make sure the elastic hasn't gotten twisted anywhere, then overlap the ends using your 1" extra, pin the ends together and stitch using a zig zag stitch.

Slip the elastic ends up into the casing, switch back to straight stitch (no one else forgets to do that, right?) and close up the hole.  This is optional, but to help keep your elastic from getting twisted, find where the approximate side seams of the dress would be and run a row of stitches vertically over the elastic down each side.

For the straps, the method will be similar to making bias tape.  First fold each strap in half lengthwise and press.  Then open it up and fold each short side in 1/4" then press each long side to the middle crease.  Fold the whole thing in half lengthwise once more and press.  Stitch around the 3 open sides and you have straps!

Fold the dress in half along the center back seam and use a pin to mark the center front.  For toddler sizes, mark 2.5" from center on each side for strap placement.  For older girls, mark out 2.75" - 3" from center.  You can also try it on your little one to get the placement you desire.

Pin each strap in place and stitch down over the top line of stitches from your elastic casing.  If you are making regular straps instead of halter straps, repeat these steps to attach them to the back of the dress.

At this point, you could tie the straps in a bow and call it done!

I wanted to add a little something extra, so let's continue with the flower pin/brooch.  This safety pins onto the dress so you can remove it for washing.  It also makes a great hair clip!  You should have 6 circles, each 3" in diameter.  Also cut a scrap of felt into a 1" diameter circle and pin a medium sized safety pin through it.

Fold each circle in half, wrong sides together.  Place a dab of hot glue in the center of each circle, near the fold.  Fold in half again, gluing it into a quarter circle.  If you aren't a hot-gluer, you could alternately place a couple of quick hand stitches at the point of each quarter circle.

Take your felt circle and place it pin side down.  Cover it with a layer of hot glue and place 3 of the fabric triangles on it, leaving equal space in between.  Then repeat, layering on the 3 remaining triangles.  If you are hand sewing, stitch all the triangles down, but keep the stitches close to the center of the circle of felt.

Now cover up your glued/stitched center with something cute!  I used a fabric covered button, but a plastic button would also be great.  A rolled fabric rosette is adorable as well.

Use the safety pin to attach the flower to the dress and you are done!

Run outside and enjoy the summer!

This also makes a great 4th of July dress!  On this version, I made the straps skinnier (ran out of fabric, oops!) and omitted the flower pin.

Thanks again for having me today!  I hope everyone has a fabulous summer!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Double Cinched Skirt Tutorial

In honor of Skirting the Issue, being hosted by the lovely ladies of Simple Simon & Co, I'm posting this tutorial for a sweet little double cinched skirt.  

I first shared this skirt as a part of the girls' 2nd birthday outfits and I've had several requests for a tutorial, so here we go!

To make this skirt, you will need:

- 2 coordinating fabrics (1/2 yard each should be enough for most sizes)
- 3 yards of coordinating 3/8" grosgrain ribbon
- 1" wide non-roll elastic
- coordinating thread
- sewing stuff

You will need two measurements for this skirt: your child's waist measurement and the waist to knee measurement.  From your underskirt fabric, cut one piece from selvage to selvage the length of your waist to knee measurement.  For the 3T skirt I was making, this was 12" long.  Also from the underskirt fabric, cut one piece from selvage to selvage that is 3" wide.  From the overskirt fabric, cut a piece from selvage to selvage that is 3" shorter than your overskirt (so 9" for my 3T size).  Once you have all the pieces cut, fold them in half width-wise so the selvage ends are together.  With all the pieces folded in half, cut 2" off the selvage ends.  Save the two pieces from the overskirt fabric and discard the rest.

With right sides together, stitch both your overskirt and underskirt pieces up the short sides using a 1/2" seam, forming a tube.  This seam will be your center back seam.

Hem both skirt pieces by folding up 1/2" and pressing and then another 1/2" and pressing, then sew in place.

Take the two rectangular pieces you cut off your overskirt and finish the long raw edge (the other long edge should be a selvage edge) and one short raw edge by serging, zig zag stitching or cutting with pinking shears.  These will be the casings for your ribbon.

Lay out your overskirt and find the center front.  Mark it with a pin.  Determine where you want your cinches to be on the skirt and place your casing pieces evenly away from the center.  Mark with pins. I put mine about 3" to either side of center, but you may want to go closer together or farther apart depending on the size of skirt you are making.

Place your casing pieces right sides to wrong side with your overskirt, positioning using your pin marks from the previous step.  Make sure the finished short edge is down by the hem!  Pin in place and edge stitch down the two long sides and down the center.  Don't stitch the top or bottom closed!

It will look like this from the front.

Cut four pieces of grosgrain ribbon, each about 24" long.  Using a safety pin, thread one piece of ribbon through each of the four casings.  Pin the ribbons in place, even with the top edge of the overskirt.

Baste the ribbons in place.

Now place your underskirt inside the overskirt, right side to wrong side, and baste all the way around the top using 1/4" seam allowance.

To make the waistband, take your 3" piece and stitch the short sides together with a 1/2" seam allowance.  It should now be the same size as the top of your skirt.

Turn your skirt inside out and place the waistband's right side against the wrong side of the skirt.  Pin in place, matching the center back seam.  Stitch the waistband to the skirt using a 3/8" seam.

Flip the waistband up and press.  You should now see the right side of your waistband and the wrong side of your skirt.

Turn your skirt right side out.  It should look like this from the right side.

Turn the top edge of the waistband down 1/4" all the way around and press.

Fold the waistband down so it covers all your basting stitches and press.  Stitch it down close to the edge, leaving about 3" open to insert your elastic.

Cut a piece of elastic to your child's waist measurement plus 1".  Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through the casing.

Using your extra 1", overlap the ends of the elastic, make sure nothing has twisted up in the waistband, then pin and sew the ends together.  

Tuck the elastic up into the casing and sew the opening closed.  Stretch the waistband out to evenly distribute the gathers.

Now just cinch up the overskirt to your liking, tie a couple of pretty bows and you're all done!