KCWC S12: Day 1 – Shirt to Skirt Refashion

Made it through Day 1 of Kid Clothes Week Challenge Spring 2012!  Did you know that there are 550 640 people participating!?!  You should check out the flickr pool to see all the amazing clothes being churned out this week.

I’m really excited to be getting around to some projects I’ve had floating around my head for awhile.  I’m MOST excited about the Jump Rope Dress!  I decided to get this pattern because it was available as a downloadable PDF pattern from the Oliver + S site and I have a minor obsession with PDF patterns.  Plus I’ve heard so many amazing things about O+S patterns that I thought I should try one.  Then I saw Gail’s Jump Rope Dress and it is perfection!!  The thing I love most about it, is that I would never have picked that fabric for this dress, but Gail did, and I LOVE the way that it came out.

So I made myself a little schedule for KCWC, especially for the Jump Rope Dress.  Gail pointed out that they did a sewalong for the dress on Sew, Mama, Sew, awhile back so I looked at their schedule and they broke it up into 7 days.  The first day was tracing your pattern and cutting your fabric, which I’ve already done, so I figured I could just do the other 6 parts over the next 6 days and have a pretty little dress at the end of the week!  Well that’s the PLAN anyways.

I still have about 3-4 little projects that I’ll work on each day on top of the Jump Rope Dress and we’ll just see how much I can get done.

I’ll just say upfront though, that I plan on spending more than an hour each day sewing.  Even today’s project which was supposed to be a super simple refashion took me about 2 hours.

I bought this shirt at the thrift store because I really liked the fabric.  From far away, it probably just looks grayish, but it’s actually got super colorful and super tiny stripes.

At first I was just going to cut out a rectangle over the pocket section of the shirt, hem it and make an elastic waistband and call it a day.  But of course, I like to complicate things.  I couldn’t use the section with the pocket because the sleeves started right there.  So I removed the pocket and sewed it back on right above the bottom of the shirt (yay, no hemming!).  Then came the idea for the pleats in the front, which I thought would look better with a flat front waistband and I didn’t want to fold over the pleated fabric, so I made a separate waistband.  A few mistakes and some ripped out and resewn seams (isn’t that the WORST?) and 2 hours later and I have this little skirt.  AND it somehow turned out too big!  I had to pin it for these photos, but I’m sure it’ll look great on her when she’s a bit bigger (like when she’s 4) 😛

I really do love it though.

Today’s task for the Jump Rope Dress was to make the placket.  Pretty intense, but following the sewalong post was really helpful.  I’m proud to say that I did not totally screw it up!  Plus, I have the hard part done and hopefully the rest will come together pretty smoothly.

I’ll try post an “in progress” pic of the dress every day that I work on it so you can see it come together.

Day one.  DONE.  Hope we can keep this up . . .

(it’s a joint effort, you know)

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Blossom By Blossom Dress – Special Occasion for PR&P

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

-Algernon Charles Swinburne

Well winter certainly isn’t over yet, but I thought the poem was fitting.  The dress has winter imagery, but spring colors underneath and flowers blossoming all over, so I immediately thought of winter turning to spring.  Hence the poem and the name 🙂

So here’s my entry for this week’s Project Run and Play Sew-along.  The theme is Special Occasion/Party Wear.  I had fun making this dress.  I can’t say that it’s a super original idea, but it was definitely a new challenge for me.

I started with the idea of finding a sheer patterned fabric to lay over a solid fabric.  I used this curtain, and though it was much more opaque than I had originally imagined, I liked the tree branch image.  Because I had a “sheer” fabric, I thought an illusion neckline would be something fun to try.  It turned out to be barely noticeable (because of the nearly opaque white fabric and the light colored green underneath), but that’s probably much more age appropriate for a toddler.

I wasn’t planning on making the main body of the dress two different colors, but the idea sprouted from my indecisiveness at the fabric store.  I would usually never pick a nearly neon green, but it went so well with the purple and I figured it would be hidden under the white anyways.  But once I started playing with it, I really liked the colors and made each one peek out a little bit.  They really shout “spring” and “fun” to me!  It was a nice contrast to the stark white and bare branches of the curtain material.  The fabric is a cheap nylon.

I hand rolled and stitched the neckline and armholes, which was new to me.  I don’t really know if I did it right, and it doesn’t look super clean, but I wanted the hem to be as small as possible.  They are still not nearly as small as pictures I’ve seen online, but I guess I’ll keep working on it.

I finished it off with a bunch of flowers and petals cut from the curtain fabric and handstitched to the dress.  I just can’t resist putting fabric flowers on anything! 🙂

I like the way the fabrics look, but with hindsight, I wish I had chosen something different.  These fabrics are synthetic and stiff and unforgiving.  I sew at night when Yuki is sleeping and I’m horrible at using measurements (a major weakness), so last night I realized that the bodice fit ALL WRONG.  It was super baggy in the front and perfect in the back.  The neckline was too big and almost falling off her shoulder.  So I added some pleats to the front and had to take in the bodice a bit.  Now it’s a bit of a squeeze to get her arms through :P.  I really don’t know how to get that perfect balance of fitted, but still fits.  If the fabric had even a little give, it probably would not be so bad.  Oh well – live and learn!

The shoes are kind of a fun story.  I realized last night that Yuki didn’t have any shoes to wear with the dress.  I felt ridiculous buying shoes JUST for this outfit, especially since this girl has an outrageous amount of shoes for some reason.  But I went to Payless and these gladiator sandals, originally $12.99, were marked at $4.  They have a buy one get one 1/2 off promotion, so I thought I’d buy something else and these shoes would be $2.  But when I went to check out, it turns out the sandals were on clearance for $2 so with the half off deal, they were only $1!!  So then I didn’t feel so bad. 🙂  I didn’t particularly like the silver flowers they had on them, so I made a few more flowers with the curtain material and hot glue gunned them on.  I think they look great and match perfectly with this dress now!

I also made a petticoat with tulle to give the dress more body, but I think I actually prefer the dress without.  I guess it’s a good thing to keep around though.  It can be paired with any skirt or dress and since it’s kinda huge, she can probably use it for a long time.  This morning she just wore it around the house like a tutu and turned around in (very slow) circles.  Where does she learn this from!?? 😛

(Please ignore how crooked that top row of tulle is.  I was in a super rush :))

For our photo shoot today we went to the Palace of Fine Arts.  Just another gorgeous spot in our city.  And the weather was amazing!!  It actually felt like spring!

Well, I guess that’s it for this outfit AND the Project Run & Play Sew-along.  I think next week the three actual PR&P contestants that are left will do their signature look.  It’d be fun to keep playing along, but I feel like it’s time to move on to other projects that are calling my name.  I’ll have a few tutorials coming up and a reflection on this sew-along challenge coming up, but for now I’ll just say that it has been so much fun participating.  I have learned so much, been so challenged and am so inspired!

I leave you with two outtakes from the photoshoot:

I told Yuki to lean in and smell the flower.  I think she’s either kissing it or nibbling on it.  Yum.

And this picture is SO our daughter.  You can put the girl in a dress, but that doesn’t make her act “like a lady!”  She was climbing and picking up rocks and scraping her knees the whole time.  That’s my tomboy!  She makes me proud 🙂

Linked up this project here:
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Tutorial: Double Layered Simple Skirt

I’m so excited to share this skirt with you!  It’s kind of a Sew & Tell, Tutorial and Repurposed Project all in one!  I wanted to do an add-on to the Simple Skirt Tutorial to show you an easy way to add another layer and get a fun new look.  I also had some fabric laying around that needed repurposing, and this was the perfect way to use it.

I started off with a tank top that had a stain smack in the middle of it.  I was ready to let go of it as a tank top, but I loved the unique scalloped eyelet bottom.

I thought I’d be able to use the material for a skirt for Yuki.  Since it has large eyelets I knew I needed another layer underneath so it would be appropriately modest for my little one 🙂  Luckily I had this old bed sheet I had bought at a thrift store for about a dollar.  I’ve used it to make lining for a pillow case, a mock-up for a jacket, and now this skirt and there’s still tons of fabric left.  What a great deal!  The sheet had a ruffle of eyelet fabric on the bottom that I thought might add some volume and why not add small scalloped eyelet to big scalloped eyelet?  Wouldn’t that be fun??

So let’s make the skirt!!  Like I said, this is variation of the original Simple Skirt Tutorial.  The first tutorial includes more information about materials, measurements, and hemming, which is NOT included in this tutorial, so please refer back to that one if you have any questions.

Materials:
Fabric – You can use two different fabrics, or the same fabric for both layers.  You can also repurpose something or use new material.  It’s up to you!
Elastic – I used 1″ wide elastic and you’ll need it to be as long as the waist measurement plus 1 inch.  If the kid’s (or adult’s) waist measurement is 17 inches, cut 18 inches.

You’ll also need the essentials – sewing machine, iron, thread, scissors, pins, and though it’s optional, a safety pin is super handy.

Let’s get started.

First (and always), wash, dry and iron your fabric.  Then it’s time to cut it.  For more details about measurements, see the Simple Skirt Tutorial.  For this project, I wanted to keep the width of the skirt fabric the same as the tank top so that I wouldn’t lose any of the eyelet and I wouldn’t have to re-sew up the sides (basically, I didn’t cut the tank top yet).  For the bottom layer of the skirt (white) I folded it in half and measured the same width as the top (blue) material plus a 1/4 inch for seam allowance.

For the length, I measured the bottom layer first.  I cut it at exactly the length I wanted the finished skirt to be.  The great thing about using these fabrics is that the bottoms were done and required no hemming!  And yes, you do need a bit of room for seam allowance on top, but you’ll see later why I didn’t add any length to the bottom layer.

For the top layer (blue fabric) I laid it on top of the white fabric at the length I wanted it to be.  Then I added about 1/2 an inch to the top and cut it.

If you are using fabric that needs to be hemmed at the bottom, be sure to add another inch.

Here is my cut fabric:

Make sure the white fabric is folded in half with right sides together, pin and sew up the short end.

If you are using new fabric that is unfinished on all 4 sides, you will need to sew up both short ends on both fabrics.

Turn your fabric right side out and press the seam.  Now you should have two tubes of fabric that are the same width.

Now, with both fabrics right side facing out, you’re going to insert the top layer inside the bottom layer.  So in this case, the blue tube was inside the white tube.  Line them up on the top and pin all the way around.

Sew along the top edge around the entire waist, using a 1/4 seam allowance, back stitching at the beginning and end.

When you are done and you pull the material out from inside, it should look like this.  On the left is the bottom layer, right side up, and on the right is the top layer, wrong side up.

Flip the top layer down over the bottom layer.  I did not want any of the white fabric to show at the top of the skirt, so instead of pressing it open right on the seam, I made the fold with about a 1/4 inch of the blue fabric on the inside of the skirt.  This is why I didn’t add any seam allowance to the bottom layer fabric when cutting the length, but I added an extra 1/2 inch to the top layer – a 1/4 inch for seam allowance and another 1/4 inch to fold over to the inside of the skirt.  Does this make sense??

Press all the way around and pin.  Now we’re going to make the casing for the elastic.  Leaving about a 2 inch opening, sew all the way around the waistline, making sure your casing is wide enough for your elastic.

In the picture above, I was using the elastic to make sure I was sewing my casing wide enough.  After you’re done, you should have a 2 inch gap that is open for you to slide the elastic through.

If you have a safety pin, insert it into one end of the elastic.  This will help you guide the elastic through the casing.

Pull apart the two layers to find the opening for the elastic.  Using the safety pin, pull the elastic through the casing.

Pull the elastic all the way around the waist and back out through the opening.  Make sure the elastic hasn’t twisted at all and is laying flat the entire way around.  Overlap the elastic by about an inch and sew them together.

Finish sewing up the casing and you’re done!!

Now, I don’t know if you noticed this, but in the original simple skirt tutorial, I said you needed about double the waist measurement for the width of the fabric.  So for a 17 inch waist, you need 34 inches of fabric.  For this skirt, I didn’t want to cut any of the blue fabric away, so I left it at it’s original width, which was at least 42 inches.  All the extra fabric, plus the extra layer made this skirt really full!!

This skirt reminds me of something you’d wear to a tea party or something.  But all our lil’ tomboy wants to do is climb things and play with dirt and rocks.  That’s our girl!

Luckily, we live in California where an outfit like this might still be appropriate for November.  But it won’t last long, so I promise I’m going to start focusing on more winter-ish clothes soon.  Fleece, flannel, and sleeves, here I come.

As for this tutorial, I’d really like some feedback.  When I’m trying to explain the steps, I feel like I’m not being clear and that it’s too confusing.  If you have any suggestions for parts that need clarifying, I’d really appreciate you letting me know.  Or asking me questions if you need help.  I want to help!  🙂  I hope you try a Double Layered Simple Skirt.  And if you do, please send me a photo!!  Have fun!

Sew & Tell: Repurposed Tank Top Turned Girl’s Halter

This was a fun project because I got to take something old that I wasn’t quite ready to part with and turn it into something new for Yuki!  I’ve had this top for years and it was one of my favorite summer tank tops.  It just screams “let’s hang out at Golden Gate Park on a sunny day!”  But unfortunately, I grew out of it (literally).  Here it is before:

And you can see that it’s already too small for me 😦

And one year later!

Looks the same, huh?

This was an extremely easy project because I kept almost everything the same.  I didn’t touch the front and I kept the back the same except I tightened the elastic a bit.  I removed the straps and moved them closer together.  The original straps criss-crossed in the back and were attached with buttons.  I decided to skip all that and just tie them like a halter.  Then I sewed up the sides and cut and hem the bottom and I was done!  Easiest top I ever made!

This project has really inspired me to start looking at things differently.  There is so much old clothes (and bedding, towels, etc.) that I just toss or donate, even if it has just a tiny hole or stain.  Now I look at old things and try to imagine what I can make with the fabric to turn it into something fresh and new!  It’s good for me, good for Yuki, and good for the environment!  The only one who loses out of this deal is my sister, who, as an adult, has come to embrace the hand-me-downs. 🙂