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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Attaching a woven skirt to a knit top - a tutorial

I like the relative crispness of a woven skirt, but a knit top to a dress has many advantages too. If you have a dress that is all woven, you will normally have an opening with some means of closing it in order to get the dress over the head or hips. (Exceptions might be peasant style dresses or dresses with shirring, which can then be stretched over the head to get the dress on.) With a knit dress, you may or may not have an opening, Often the neckline will be stretchy enough to get the dress on without the need to undo anything. Where you have a knit bodice and a woven gathered or circular skirt, you need to retain some stretchiness in the top of the skirt, unless you plan to put in an opening that goes down into the skirt. (And why would you want to do that if you didn't need to?)



This became one of my grand-daughter's favourite dresses that summer - it was so easy for her to get it on and off herself. To find out how to attach a woven skirt without losing the stretchiness in the waist, read on.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Girl Patterns - Baby Girls - Page 2, Crawlers to Toddlers

This is page two of a post covering free PDF sewing patterns for baby girls. Page 1 covered babies up to about crawling age, though there is obviously some overlap, so do look at Page 1 as well. Some of the patterns do come in multiple sizes.


The majority of the patterns I've covered in these two pages are for dresses, as I've already covered more unisex clothes (pants, hats, bibs and aprons etc) in separate posts. So do a search in the search box on the blog if you want something less obviously girlie. I will also be following up soon with posts on patterns for older girls, or c. 2 years upwards. 

Monday, 14 October 2019

A peasant dress with a pleated neckline

This lovely 100% cotton fabric was chosen by chosen by one of my granddaughters when I had promised her a new peasant dress. 

It is quite a thick cotton, and even after washing, I thought it would actually be less suitable for a peasant style dress than if it had been thinner material. However, I'm quite pleased with the finished result, with pleats around the neckline rather than gathers, and it has certainly been worn a lot.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

This year's summer shorts - Superheroes mark 1 - Oliver+S pattern review

This post is going to be part pattern review and part tutorial. And part - how to get kids shorts out of two fat quarters. 


I started with the aim of using the Oliver+S Sunny Day shorts pattern (a free PDF) and reviewing it. But I found I had so much more to say than what a good pattern this is, and how grateful I am to the author, that it's also become something of a tutorial on how to get the best out of it.

Monday, 7 October 2019

An A-line dress with a bodice yoke and layers

This is yet another variation on the basic A-line dress - the most versatile dress style there is, in my humble opinion! This one has a bodice yoke, and a deep frill. You could do more layers, or course. 


Here's how to make something like this delightful little rabbit dress.

Wrap dress for girls - a Tulip Hem dress for 5 and 7 years - with thanks to BloomsnBugs

Two to three years ago, I was busy making Tulip Hem dresses from the Blooms and Bugs pattern, designed for c. 3 year olds. (Big thanks to the BloomsnBugs blog!) See my earlier postBut I haven't made any since then, because I haven't had three-year-olds to make dresses for. The Tulip Hem dress is a pretty design, with a wrap over front. Here's one I made earlier for Jane when she was 3.




Although BloomsnBugs fasten theirs with buttons, I used strings (a pair inside and out) to allow for growth widthwise. 

Read on to see how to make one in a larger size (with a new free pattern).

My free PDF patterns - tutorial

On my blog, I've provided a number of free PDF patterns. I'm not a professional designer, these are all things I've made successfully for my grand-children. So I don't have sophisticated layers, or A0 printing, or 12 sizes on each pattern - they are fairly simple. But you may want a few tips for how to use them.

They are intended for printing at home, on either A4 paper or letter paper. You should download them and print them from your computer, for example using Adobe Acrobat, rather than printing them out directly from the internet - that way you can control the printing size. They should all be printed 'Actual Size' i.e. no scaling. They should also be printed single-sided if there is more than one page. (I've made that mistake before, when I forgot the printer had last printed a double-sided document.)

All include seam allowance as described in the relevant tutorial. On most patterns, this is 3/8" or 1 cm. But check the tutorials.

There are four different types, which will need to be used in slightly different ways.

1) On some patterns, such as the Girls' Wrap Dress, or the Girls' Pinafore Dress, the pattern runs to a few pages (but not dozens!) They all include a test square, generally on Page 1, so I suggest you print just that page first to check it is printing correctly. These patterns have letters to indicate which pages join together. But the pattern is all contained within a border. You can either trim off all the borders after printing and put the sheets edge to edge to join them, or (my preference) just trim one of two adjacent borders, and move the trimmed piece so that the edge overlaps the untrimmed sheet. (You may need to trim, say, a side and a top border from some pages.) This shows (on another draft pattern) how the pages overlap and the letters, A, B, C etc match up. The letters may be in circles or diamonds.

Use sticky tape or stick glue to attach them together. Then you can trace the size you want, or cut round the size you want, ready to use to cut out your fabric. Note the markings:

  • Straight grain - the pattern piece should be placed on the straight grain i.e. parallel to the selvedge
  • Place on fold - the fabric should be folded so you put this line against the fold - do not cut along this line.
  • The small circles in the corners of pattern pieces mark the seam allowance. (On multi-size patterns, having the complete seam allowance drawn in could be very confusing!)
  • The small triangles on the edges of each pattern piece are so that you can match them when sewing seams.


2) Like the Girls' Wrap Dress, some other patterns also include a test square for sizing, and should be attached together after printing, in the same way. However, I made a decision on patterns like the A-line dress, not to draw out the entire pattern for you to print, as it would run to many pages. Some of these might be more or less blank, or just have one line on them - a waste of printing ink!. So on the A-line dress, I've provided you with (most of) the bodice on just 4 printed sheets, and given measurements so you can extend the side seams to the appropriate length. 

You can either lay the pattern, once you've cut round or traced the size you want, on another large sheet of paper (I use broadsheet newspapers or spare wrapping paper saved for pattern making), and complete the pattern. Or you can place your pattern piece on the fabric and draw the extension lines directly on to the fabric. I usually prefer to make a complete pattern so I can easily re-use it.

3) Some, especially doll patterns, or very small baby clothing like hats or boleros, fit on one sheet. Many of these are drawn on 1" or 1/2" graph paper so that you can check they have printed the right size. Once printed (and the size checked) you can just cut out the pattern piece.

4) My dining harness pattern, as an example, is quite large. It is also drawn on graph paper, but it has several sheets. There is a layout plan provided (on P3) and each sheet has alphabetical letters to show which pages join to each other. 



However, all the borders (the part of the page which doesn't have graph squares) should be trimmed off, and the pattern then joins edge to edge. The best plan is to put them together with sticky tape. Alternatively, you can just trim one on the joining border and use stick glue or tape to overlap the pages so the pattern edges meet. On one page, note that the pattern piece does not reach the border, so the piece needs to be further trimmed to the line with the letters, so that the letters meet the letters on the piece to which it attaches.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Tutorial for lined or faced bodices - and how to include tabs or strings

I make a lot of tops and dresses for my grand-daughters that call for a lining or a facing. This may be a facing round the armholes and the neckline........


... or one that just covers the neckline .........


.... or it may be a fully-lined bodice, seen here from the outside .....


.... and the inside.


This is often a good way to fashion a front or back opening with tabs or strings as closures. But it may not be self-evident how to incorporate these features neatly. If you haven't done this before, here's how.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Play All Day Dress - free PDF Pattern Review from Its Always Autumn

Fleur hates fussy dresses. It's not so long since she refused to wear a dress at all, even for church. But  she started school a year ago, and the uniform is a dress or skirt - all the girls wear them, and she has no choice. And strangely, she will now on occasion accept wearing a dress, But no frills. Not pink. Nothing 'itchy'. So far, she accepted this tartan dress for Christmas, and this black and white dress in the spring. But that only gives her a limited number of dresses, and she's attending a four day Hindu wedding. So she needed a couple more. Here's the first. She chose the fabric herself. And the simple as can be design was one she could accept.