Monday, February 25, 2013

Colorblocked Knit Skirt with Shirred Waist Tutorial

I have this plan for potty training...it's called skirts and lots of them.  My hope is that skirts will be super easy to deal with when we go rushing off to the potty instead of struggling with pants.  With that in mind, I dug through the t-shirt scrap pile and pulled out some coordinating solids until I had enough to make some simple skirts.



This skirt first made an appearance in the Valentine's Day Babylegs post.  I liked it so much, I did it again, this time in navy and gray.










Right now we're pairing them up with leggings or Babylegs, but they'll be deliciously light and comfy when warm weather hits!




These skirts are so easy and quick and great for conquering two common sewing fears: knits and shirring!  Stick with me and I'll walk you through, step by step!

You will need:

- Light to medium weight knit t-shirts in two coordinating colors (you could also use yardage, but t-shirts are easiest.  If you use yardage, 1/4 - 1/3 yard per color should work for most little girl sizes)
- Elastic thread (found by the regular thread, usually comes on a small spool)
- A ballpoint machine needle
- Steam iron
- Sewing stuff (machine, coordinating thread, pins, scissors or rotary cutter/mat)

To get started, you will need the waist measurement (W) of the child as well as the desired finished length (L).  To make your cuts, divide your finished length number in half (L2).  For the bottom layer, add 1/2" to L2 and cut one piece that length x the width of the t-shirt (usually about 20").  For the top layer, add 1" to L2 and cut one piece that length x the width of the t-shirt.  Basically you should have two rectangles that are the same width, but the top color should be 1/2" longer.



Line up the two layers and measure the final width of the top layer.  Mark the center of the top layer with a pin.  Divide your child's waist measurement in half and subtract this from the width of the top layer.  For me, the top layer was 20" and half the waist was 9".  That left me with 11".  Divide this number in half and mark equally away from the center.  For me, that was 5.5" away from center on each side (11 divided by 2).  Once you have this marked, cut at an angle from the bottom edge on each side up to your outer marks on each side.  This will cut a wedge shape away from each side.



Now sew the short ends of each wedge together, forming two tubes.



Then sew the two tubes together, right sides together to make your colorblock.  



Open it up and you should have a roughly A-line skirt!  If your seam is wonky, just hit it with a hot steam iron.  You will be amazed at how many funky waves a good ironing can banish from knit seams!



Hem the bottom edge if desired, although it's not necessary since knit won't fray.  On the pink and orange skirt, I just let the hem roll up, but on this blue and gray one, I went ahead and hemmed.  

Turn the top edge under 1/2" and stitch in place.



Now it's time to shirr!  Your needle thread will remain the same, but you will need to hand wind your bobbin with elastic thread.  Just wrap the thread around the bobbin without pulling it tight, but also not so loose that it's hanging off.  Just continue with a nice even wrap until you have filled it up.  Then put your bobbin in the machine and pull the thread up with your needle as usual.

For shirring, I usually crank the tension up a little bit.  I normally sew around a 5, but to shirr, I typically go up to about 7.  Everything else can remain the same.  Start about 1/8" beneath the line of stitching you just made on the top edge.  Sew on the top side (right side) of the fabric.  Stitch all the way around the skirt, backstitching at the beginning and end of the row.



After you have finished the first row, you will see that the fabric has already started to gather up!



For the next row, you will shirr 1/4" away from the first shirred row.  Backstitch at the beginning and end of the row.  As you stitch, lightly stretch the fabric so you are always sewing over flat fabric.  Do not sew over gathers or the shirring won't come out evenly.



You will want to shirr a few rows to make sure the skirt fits correctly.  For my 3T size, I did 5 rows.  I would recommend doing 4 rows for infant skirts, 5 rows for toddler skirts, and 6 rows for bigger girls.

Once the shirring is complete, you will have a nice gathered look on the outside (right) and your elastic thread only shows on the inside (left).



Most likely, the skirt will still be too large at this point.  Grab your hot steam iron and steam up the shirred area.  Go all the way around the shirring, steaming until it shrinks up.  The top skirt in this photo is right after I finished shirring, prior to steam ironing.  The bottom skirt was the exact same size to begin with, but after steam ironing, you can see it really shrinks up a lot!



That's it!  You just made a knit, shirred skirt!  



This is such a great quick project and really comfy for the little ones to wear for play.  Go hit the scrap t-shirt pile and see what you can come up with!  I'd love to see it if you make one, so be sure to add your photos to the flickr group!






Have a great week!

PS - Don't forget to enter the My Memories Giveaway...it ends this Thursday!



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