Thursday, 4 June 2015

Onesies and T-shirt Dresses

I've found a few patterns for T-shirt dresses on the internet, and, as I had some T-shirt material, I decided I would make one each for the girls.

The idea of a baby's T-shirt dress is usually that you attach the skirt part to an existing onesie, encasing the raw edge of the skirt top in a fold in the onesie. Two problems with this for me. Firstly, it shortens the onesie by the amount of the fold - about an inch or so. Secondly, it would be difficult, without the model being present, to work out exactly where the waistline should go. 

So for two of my versions, I made the skirt part separate, using some of the T-shirt fabric to form a waistband. This does have the advantage that if, say, there is an accident with the onesie, you can still use the skirt with a clean onesie. (Or vice versa.) And the skirt can kind of find its own level on the baby's body, so no problem of knowing where the waistline is.

However, I didn't actually use an existing onesie for any of them, because : (a) I didn't have any onesies  to spare and (b) doing that wouldn't use up my T-shirt material. So for two of the outfits, I started by making my own envelope neck onesie - easier than I expected.

I found a number of useful free patterns on the internet for onesies and T shirt dresses. As I almost always do, I found myself using several different patterns to create my own. Some were too small, others didn't have the neckline I wanted, and all of them provided something useful to help with the making up of the garment. Here are my reflections on some of these patterns, as well as the resulting outfits.

Some of the free patterns on the internet use an old onesie as the basis, for example:
This one has a gathered skirt, but there are similar examples with a circular skirt. 

Here are a couple of nice onesie patterns for small sizes, if that's what you're looking for:
This is only for 0-3 months, so would need adaptation for larger babies. (I can't actually imagine being bothered to make up a onesie for a newborn baby, as they grow so quickly. Clothes for 0-3 months are what everyone gives as gifts, so you usually have more than enough of these, and then not enough as the baby gets older, and harder on his or her clothes.) However, it does give a very good explanation of how to make it up.
Another nice onesie pattern for 3-6 months.

However, the two that I used for most of my projects were the following:
A nice pattern, in 3 different sizes from 3 months to 9 months, but it isn't an envelope neck style, which it what I wanted. Hence:
This isn't a onesie, but has the envelope neck. And it usefully comes in multiple sizes, so I could use the top, and add a bottom from the Shwin and Shwin pattern.It also has very clear instructions.

I also drew round a onesie from the pound store to make a new pattern.

The first 'T-shirt dress' I made used some combination of these. This one, in about a 3-6 month size, was made for Baby a.

(I now have two two grand-daughters whose initial is 'A', so they have to be "Baby A" and "Baby a" on the blog. So far I only have one grand-daughter with the initial 'I', so she remains "Baby I". I'll soon need to rename them "Toddler A" and "Toddler I". "Baby a" can stay that way for a bit! Please, daughter, don't have any more with the same initials - it will take you way too long to work your way through the alphabet!)

In this turquoise version, the skirt is separate, and the waistband is made from the same material as the onesie part. The skirt material is the same as I used on the donkey dress in my earlier blog.

"Baby a" looks happy in her outfit!

A feature was the mock bib I added. This was partly for decorative effect, but also because the material I used had come from a T shirt with a rugby shirt neckline, and so it wasn't quite long enough in the centre for me to make the round neck I wanted. Hence an insert of some plain white T shirt material. But I think it looks cute anyway.

The second one I made was for Baby I. The pattern for this I made by drawing round a onesie from the pound store that said it was 12-18 months, but looking at it I guessed more like 9-12 months, which makes it about the right size for Baby I. It's still a bit big for her. I used ivory stretch bias binding from Minerva Crafts for the bindings.

 The finished onesie with the poppers open ....

....and with the poppers closed

 The separate circular skirt, with a waistband of the onesie material...

... and the complete outfit.

Here's Baby I wearing it. The only problem is, she doesn't keep still long enough to get a
an un-blurry photo! It will still fit her for a while.

The third one, for Baby A, doesn't use a onesie as a base, but was designed as a T-shirt and skirt combo. I didn't use the envelope neck style for this one, but a modified version of the Shwin Cap Sleeve Tee Dress. This is sized as 12-18 months but easily adapted to 18-24 months. The skirt in this case was attached to the bottom of the T-shirt part. 

The main modification was that I had an opening on the left shoulder, to be fastened with poppers. I thought this would make getting it over her head easier. Although she's tall enough to be in a 24 month dress, she's only 19 months old, and still not very tolerant of having things pulled over her face.

The T shirt was straightforward. I followed the Shwin pattern, having added a bit more round the chest, and lengthened it a bit. I used another of the Minerva Fabrics stretch bias bindings, in navy satin, for the neck and armholes. But instead of sewing up both shoulders, I added a placket to the left one, with some poppers. However, I also added a motif (see here how I made it) formed of one of the teddy bears from a scrap left from the skirt.

The skirt was a bigger challenge, as I was almost out of the material I intended to use, to match the vest top. I wasn't going to be able to make the skirt circular. In fact, I only had a strip left about 23 cm (9") long by about a metre (1.1 yds) wide. by So I first narrowed down the pattern (not the waist, which in fact I'd enlarged, but just the hem), by folding the edges in. So you can see it's no longer a full quadrant.

Then I had to alternate and reverse the pattern 4 times, like this, to get 4 separate panels. Obviously, I had to add extra seam allowance to the edges of each panel. (Sorry it was cut out before I thought of taking a photo, but this how the pieces more or less fitted together. The dotted lines on the photo show where the edges of the strip of material would have been.) In one of the little scraps left, I found a complete teddy bear for my motif.

I was going to have the most minimal hem, so to try and make a nice neat hem only about 1/4" / 0.6 cm, I first ironed it over the pattern to keep the curve. This is a useful tip to keep a curve 'true' when you come to sew it.


Then I used my machine's zig zag stitch over it. It does show on the right side, but I think the zig zag makes a nice design.

Finally, the two were stitched together, and the seam was covered with a band of the stretch satin bias binding I'd used for the neck and armholes, but opened out.

The finished dress, with teddy motif

So, three Tshirt dresses for 3 little girls!

(P.S There's a postscript. Watch this space.)

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