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Welcome to my Blog

I am a grandmother to 4 little girls. I blog about the things I make for them, review patterns, provide tutorials on how I've dealt with techniques or problems, which I hope may help others, and give links to the (mostly) free patterns I use. Every so often, I do a 'Best of..' post listing the best free patterns I've found under specific headings - babies, girls, boys etc. Enjoy the Blog!

Friday, 1 November 2019

More about play-suits

Two new play-suits this summer! 

Last summer, I had made play-suits, on request, for two of my grand-daughters. It takes a lot to persuade them into dresses, especially the older one. Something they could actually play in, and climb trees in, and run about in, was what they wanted. So I had come up with a design for play-suitsThese evolved as I made them, and I've learned more while making the two new ones. This was the first one I made, from 100% cotton. The second one was better, and was made of a knit fabric. In fact, the knit version was still in wear this summer. 

But by this summer, the larger 100% cotton one was completely outgrown, and the smaller knit one, though still chosen often to wear, was also really getting tight in the body length. (The knit one from last summer is on the right in the picture below - she still liked wearing it but it wasn't really that comfortable. One of the two new ones from this summer is on the left.) 

To find out how I made these new play-suits, read on.

Both girls chose the material they wanted for their new play-suits. Rose wanted a grey knit with little aeroplanes and clouds, Fleur chose a turquoise and grey striped knit. I think these play-suits do work rather better with knit, although the first one I ever made was 100% cotton. It was a nice (and comfortable) play-suit, but outgrown much quicker.

From my experience in making last year's, I hoped I would be straight in with a successful design this year. Well, both worked, as I hope you can see from the top picture. But by the time I made the second one (the larger of the two), I was happier with the way to make it, and I will shortly make a pattern for a girls' play-suit.

For this first one, I thought I was being rather clever with my method of putting it together. Although the end result is fine, I did make it harder for myself than I realised.

I made this is a size 5 for Rose. I remembered I needed a long opening in the front. But this time, I joined the front and back bodice pattern piece at the side seam, overlapping by the seam allowance, as well as the shorts pattern, before cutting out. I thought this would be a neat idea, so there would be no side seams.

(Ignore the fact that the front facing appears to only go a few inches down the centre - that was as I'd cut it last year, and had to redo. When I cut it out, I extended the front facing right down to the waist.)

You may notice that the pattern appears to have most of the edges bent over. This is because I'd made just one pattern for the 3 sizes, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. So to cut out the size 5, I needed to fold the size 7 lines out of the way.

Having cut out all 4 pieces (two bodices and two legs) I then started to sew it all together, at this stage quite pleased with myself that I had fewer seams to sew, having joined the pattern pieces.

So I sewed the inside leg seam of both legs, and made the shorts hems. 

Then I put one leg inside the other (the outer one inside out) and joined the centre back seam, and just beyond the inside leg seam, but leaving most of the front open until the zip was in.

As I joined the centre back bodice seam, I realised it was now going to be more difficult to insert the zip. So in making up the bodice, I left the shoulders open also. But I re-thought this approach for the second one. More about that below.

After joining the top to the bottom, I attached some stretch bias binding round the waist, to form a channel for elastic.

Once this was attached, I threaded 3/4" elastic through, but did no more with it at this stage, as I had to wait for the zips to arrive. I would need to cut the waist binding back so the facing could be turned in.

Eventually, I did manage to get the front zip in, though it was much more fiddly than I'd expected.

And I added more of the stretch bias binding to the neckline and the armholes. (The neckline could have been a bit neater if I'd stretched the binding round the neck a little more, but Rose was anxious to start wearing her play-suit, so I let it go.)

And she loves to wear it whenever possible!

When it came to making the larger size for sister Fleur, I had learned my lesson about joining the side seams. So I unstuck the pattern pieces again, creating a back bodice, a front bodice, back shorts and front shorts. And that's what my pattern will have. You can see I've unfolded the edges that were folded in for cutting out the smaller size. And added on an extra piece of paper to remind me that the facing for the centre front continues to the waist. I've also folded back the seam allowance that I'd had on the back bodice pattern, because I would now cut the back on the fold.

So this time, having cut the fabric, I proceeded like this:

1) I sewed up the back seam of the shorts. Here the back shorts are pinned ready.

2) I attached the back bodice to the back of the shorts.

3) I attached each piece of the front shorts to its corresponding bodice. Then, using the longest stitch on my machine, I SEWED UP THE WHOLE OF THE FRONT SEAM from the neckline to the crutch, reducing the stitch length when I got to where the bottom of the zip would be.

4) I then attached the zip to the inside of the front centre seam ........

5) ....... and unpicked the long stitches that covered the zip. This method of inserting the zip enabled me to do a pretty good job of matching the stripes. (I hope you'll agree!)

6) I now had a separate back and front, but with the zip already inserted. So I now sewed up the side seams, and the Inside leg seam. (Inside leg seam pinned in picture below.)

7) I then proceeded as before, adding a waistband inside the suit. This forms a channel for the elastic, but also neatens the inside. The picture below shows this AFTER the insertion of the elastic, because the ends have been neatened,

The picture below shows one end of the elastic having been sewn to the seam close to the zip, with the other end of the elastic threaded through round the back of the suit. This end will also be sewed into the seam, as in the picture above.

8) I made a neck band, this time of the self-material. You can see it in this side view.

9) However, I used more stretch bias binding round the armholes.

10) Finally, I hemmed the legs. Actually, I can't now remember whether I did this at the very end. I can't tell from my photos. I usually prefer to do this earlier, especially with smaller leg holes - it's much easier to hem them flat. But on this larger size, and with stretchy and forgiving fabric, I may have found it as easy to do it at the end.

Another very popular play-suit!

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