Sunday, 7 February 2016

Another Birthday Outfit

Having made a birthday outfit (no, NOT a birthday suit!) for Baby a's first birthday, I thought I would also like to make an outfit for Toddler I's second birthday. 

I still had some more of the lovely reindeer fleece material and the denim left, and this time I thought I'd make a dress, and a waistcoat. (Eventually I added a hat.)

Both of these owe a lot to the Small Dream Factory patterns. These patterns and templates are free, so a huge thank you to Small Dream Factory for this. (But the patterns should not be used for commercial purposes. I only use them to make things for my grand-children!) To find out more, read on.

To make the dress, I used the same long-sleeved T-shirt pattern as for the baby's t-shirt, from Small Dream Factory, this time in size 2T. But instead of cutting the sides straight down, I flared them out, and made it a lot longer. I also curved the hem at the bottom. I don't like a straight across hem on a flared dress. In fact, Small Dream Factory do also have a long-sleeve dress with a curved hem, but it is not an envelope neck, nor is it really an A-line, in fact the sides go straight down with just a little flare at the bottom. So my little reindeer dress was a combination of the envelope neck T-shirt, and a hand-drawn extension to make it into a dress.

I finished the neck line and the cuffs with the same stretch bias binding from Minerva that I have used on many projects, it makes life a lot easier than making your own binding. 

The waistcoat is reversible. More about that below.

I made the template for the waistcoat by using the neckline and armholes from the Small Dream Factory long-sleeve dress pattern, but with the armholes cut down a little longer so it could be worn over a dress (or T shirt). The pattern for the back was used more or less as it comes, but the front was shaped down to make a curve. You can see the idea of the pattern on a smaller version I used for a pirate costume.

I did some embroidery on the front of the outer layer, then attached the fronts to the back of the outer, and the same for the lining. This meant there were two layers which had to be placed right sides together, stitched together, then turned inside out (after clipping the curves).

 Right sides facing, sewn round all but tops of shoulders and gap in bottom back

I am always nervous about turning something an odd shape (e.g. with armholes) the right way out after sewing round two layers  - will I find I've stitched too much so it won't turn? To be on the safe side, I left the tops of the shoulders open, as well as a small opening at the bottom (between those two funny shaped lines that go down the back). In practice, I think it would have worked if I had sewn the shoulder seams across at the top, in other words if I'd sewn continuously from the start point on the back bottom edge, up one side, across the first front shoulder, down round the arm hole, across the first back shoulder, round the neck ... and so on until I reached the finish point on the back bottom edge, about 4-5" or  10-12 cm before the start point. Having the shoulder seams open did make it a bit easier to poke the whole thing through the hole in the bottom and get the seams pretty flat for pressing. 

The downside of leaving the shoulders open was that I then had to neaten or turn in the shoulder seams before I joined the front shoulders to the back shoulders. So I turned the shoulder seams to the inside and hand sewed them in. After pressing again, I over-sewed all the way round the whole thing to make the seams lie nice and flat, tucking the open bottom hems in and catching them closed with the oversewing. Finally, I tacked the back left shoulder to the front left shoulder, and the same on the right. I just tacked them edge to edge. Then I put each shoulder seam in the sewing machine and did a zigzag stitch across to hold them firmly together. You can hardly see this on the finished waistcoat. 

Here's the waistcoat one side out:
 And here's the other side out:

There wasn't quite enough of the fleece to cut out a whole second pattern, and I also wondered if a fully fleece lined waistcoat over a fleece dress might make one or the other ride up. So the denim fronts had the fleece lining, and then I used a denim lining on the back, which is also of denim but which has a panel of fleece down the middle. The shape of the panel was defined by the piece of fleece I had left! Hence those funny curved lines down the back. (That was an intention design feature, you understand.) This means that whichever way out you wear the waistcoat, you have some fleece visible, either on the back or the front.

You'll note that the denim fronts have an embroidered snowflake on each side. Baby a's matching pinafore dress had a red-nosed reindeer on the front, as the fleece material has reindeers and snowflakes on it. This time, I thought I'd follow the snowflake theme on the fleece in stead of the reindeer.

Here's the front (left) and back (right) of the dress with the waistcoat one way out, with the fleece front and the plain denim back. I think it looks like a pretty smart outfit!

And here's the front and back of the dress with the waistcoat the other way out - with the snowflake embroidery front and panelled back.

I also planned to make her a little hat from this Small Dream Factory pattern, to use up the remains of the denim. I didn't have much of the same fleece left for the lining, but I had some plain navy fleece. I wanted a hat with strings, like the Small Dream Factory one, as Toddler I pulls her hats off, and it's been so windy this last week or two that she needs something to keep her ears warm (even though she doesn't agree!)

In the end, I used a different pattern, from Purl Soho. This had the advantage of a separate panel from front to back. I had just enough of the reindeer patterned fleece to make the panel, using denim for the sides. 

Before I stitched the sides to the top panel, I embroidered the denim with the same snowflakes as on the jacket.

I used the navy fleece for the lining. It is not exactly lovely to sew, as it drops bits everywhere, but once sewn, it was nice and cosy. You can see the fleece lining below.

The instructions for this pattern are also easy to follow. It is fiddly to turn the right way out after stitching the lining into the body of the hat, but as long as you pull the strings through first, it's fine. I over-sewed all round after turning the right way out.

Then I tried to take photos of Toddler I wearing her new outfit. She was enthusiastic to try it on, even the hat, which she insisted on putting on herself. Note the backs of the waistcoat and hat with the reindeer pattern.

Yes, I know the photo's blurred. The sheer impossibility of getting her to stay still even for a milli-second, now she can walk and run, means all my photos of her are blurry nowadays. This next is the least blurry, and she's half pulled the dress down to an off-the-shoulder look.

This below is more typical. The second she sees the camera she starts running gleefully towards it. Most of my shots just have a completely blurred foreshortened face as she peers into the camera with a wide smile. I caught this just before she fell laughing into my arms. You can just see the reindeer lining to the waistcoat.

Well, at least her birthday outfit fits, even the hat, that I was worried would be too big. Finally, she tried on the waistcoat the other way out. 

But the fashion parade was over. Hat rejected (on the floor) and time to play - come on Grandma, no more photos!

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