Friday, 5 June 2015

Postscript to Onesie and T shirt Dresses - and Shorts!

The best laid plans of mice and men .....

In my last post, I wrote about some ideas for baby dresses, especially the type which is based on a babygro or onesie, and mentioned some of the free patterns I've used or adapted.  All the outfits I wrote about earlier went well, with this one exception:

So I'm now prompted to write again, as I've now remodelled this one into a couple of other outfits. Instead of one dress, my granddaughters A and a now have between them a T shirt and shorts, a onesie, and a baby skirt.

After making this one  up and trying it on, we decided (that's me and Baby A's mummy) that it was going to be too snug round her hips. It did fit, but only just, and the band at the top of the skirt part had a tendency to ride up, making the T-shirt have deep horizontal wrinkles. So - back to the drawing board. Never one to waste my hard work, I decided to find a way of using the separate parts. Of course, I ended up putting more effort in, but everyone was pleased with the results. So instead of being a T-shirt and skirt combo, the dress was remodelled as a separate T-shirt for Baby A, and a dinky skirt for her baby sister, Baby a.

All I needed to do for the T shirt (having detached the skirt) was to make a proper hem on the bottom. Then I made the navy band into a waistband, and inserted elastic to draw it up to a smaller size. 

Done! Well, yes, but for a grandmother who wants to sew, it never is done. I decided that Baby a couldn't just have a skirt, she needed a matching onesie. And Baby A couldn't just have a T shirt - she'd have to have some matching shorts. 

Here's how I made the new onesie and the shorts.

First, the navy vest, or onesie, to go with the pink skirt. I dismantled an adult sized navy T shirt, and used this and some more of Minerva's stretch bias binding, this time in pink. Plus, a little bear motif. This time, it's not one I made, but one I had in my haberdashery drawers. This time, I made the onesie a little bigger, halfway between 3-6 months and 6-9 months. She's growing all the time! There's not a lot of downwards stretch in the navy fabric, so I kept back a couple of pieces as wide as the onesie and about 5cm deep (or 2"). If the vest still fits her around the middle when it becomes too short for her, I plan to cut it across just above the hips (much easier than trying to do something with the bottom) and insert these strips. They'll be hidden by the skirt, but it won't matter as they are the same colour as the rest of the vest. Alternatively I could put a pink stripe in it.

Baby a in the navy vest

and here teamed with the pink skirt

This onesie went back to the pattern I had drawn from an actual onesie, but adjusted in size.

I've noted on it that it is 'drawn from my actual, slightly shorter and fatter than the Candidly Kate version'. I found the Candidly Kate pattern a bit long and thin, but that may just be the way it printed out. It's a really nice tutorial.

The first step was to attach the stretch bias binding to the neck edges. I now always do this in two steps, first attaching the outside seam, then folding and sewing through 'in the ditch' to close the inside seam.

Once both front and back necklines were bound, it was time to overlap them and match the notches to create the envelope neck.

Having pinned them together ready to tack them, I started to draw a sleeve pattern. First I just drew the shape as it appeared laid out. Below, I've folded them down the centre front and centre back to lay out the armhole.

This gave me a roughly semi-circular shape. But then instead of continuing the circle line right to the bottom, I started curving the opposite way. I can't tell you why, all I know is that any commercial pattern you buy is like that, and it seems to work. Must be something to do with enabling the sleeve to have some give when you move your arms, rather than staying in one tight position.

I then checked that on my drawing, the two lines which would form the sleeve underarm seam were the same length, and I had made them long enough to allow for a hem. (In fact, I was able to use the existing two sleeves from the other T shirt, so I didn't need to hem the sleeves, as I put the hemline on the existing hems to cut out.) Then I cut round the pattern.

I sewed the sleeve onto the armholes and added the teddy bear motif before sewing up the side seams and underarm seams.(All one continuous seam.)   Then I went round all the bottom edge with more of the pink bias binding, and finally added three poppers (from a continuous popper tape) to the bottom.

Baby a in her finished vest / onesie

Next, the navy shorts for Baby A. These used some other navy jersey two way stretch fabric from Fabricland. I found this excellent shorts pattern from Caila Made. It is brilliantly easy to use. The pattern is for 2 years old, so was almost perfect for our tall 19 month granddaughter Baby A.

The first steps were to stick the parts of the pattern together, and then cut out the material. Actually, I cheated a little. As the side seams were more or less straight, I joined them together so I only had to cut out two pieces. To do this, you should overlap the seam allowances, but I didn't bother, as I would elasticate the waist anyway, and like the idea of the shorts being quite roomy.  It was a very quick job to sew up the inner leg seams, and then the crutch seam, and finish the seams with the zig zag stitch on my machine. Already they started to look like shorts!

I did (as I always do!) make some minor modifications to the design. Caila provides a hemmed version and a cuffed version, but the cuffed version just turns up on the outside so you have an inner seam exposed on the outside of the cuff. It is a nice easy method, but I didn't want that to show. So I cut out two diagonal (i.e. on the bias) strips of pink gingham which were:
  •  the circumference of the bottom edge of the legs plus a seam allowance on each edge of the strip, by just over 2" or 5 cm. 
I made these into circles by sewing the short edges on each strip. These were sewn to the bottom edge of each leg with all the seams facing towards the inside of the shorts. This layer was folded up inside the leg, over the seam attaching it to the leg bottom, folded under just barely, and pressed, at the top edge, towards the inside of the leg, and simply oversewn. So my cuff covering was now on the inside of the shorts leg. In the picture, of the inside of the shorts, one leg is just bent up out of the way so you can see the oversewing clearly.

I then turned the shorts the right way out, and folded the completed cuffs up outside the shorts legs, pressed them, and tacked them in a few places to hold them up. (Caila just stitches her cuffs up the side seams but I didn't think this would be enough to hold them up on my version.)

Next I decided to add pockets. These are more for decorative effect than any use for storage, but what do 19 month old toddlers need with pockets anyway? They would actually have been slightly easier to attach had I not done away with a side seam, but hey ho. The pockets were drawn by eye, and I cut two layers for each, one in the navy jersey, and one in the pink gingham for a lining. As luck had it, I already had some pink gingham piping, so I also used that on the pocket edge opening. (The one you'd put your hand into if you were going to!)

These are the two pockets sewn, right sides together, and with the piping trapped between the layers. You can see that I have left the top open, and partway down the side opposite the opening. Some people might only leave the top open, but I hate poking things to the right side out through a very narrow opening. And I've clipped the curves to make a neater edge once it's turned. To close up the gap on the side, I pressed both sides away from each other, so when it was turned I could easily oversew it. (This shows just the first side pressed down.)

I attached the pockets to just below the waist seam, down the side (opposite the opening side), round the bottom, and up the side to where the opening started. This required a bit of fiddling to make sure they were centred and parallel. 

And one final modification. Baby A is tall for her age, but also long-waisted. After the first try on, it seemed a good idea to add on a separate waistband to make the body part of the shorts a little longer. And that gave me another idea. If I just put in a piece of elastic of a fixed length round the waist, it will eventually get tighter. So here's my idea. Instead of putting the waistband seam at the back of the shorts as normal, I put it at the front, and left a small opening on the outside.You can see that on the picture below (together with one of the finished pockets).

Then, instead of just inserting the elastic, I made the elastic a fraction shorter than her waist measurement, and added to each end a string or strap made of gingham. Here's the strap in the process of being turned right side out. These were not cut on the bias.

And attached to each end of the elastic.

Then the whole long string, with the elastic in the middle, was threaded through from the opening in the waistband, until all the elastic was inside, gathering up the waistband, and leaving the strings outside at each end.

Now the strings can be tied in a bow, and as she gets bigger round the waist, they can be loosened up a bit.

In the end, two new outfits out of one dress!

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