Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sew Easy Part 5: Strawberry Vanilla dress

Sew Easy Tutorial: Strawberry Vanilla Dress Front:

halter neck dress sewing tutorial

easy dress pattern
You can read the story behind this series and the first part here. Click here to read the second, third and fourth edition of this series.

As I was bouncing of ideas for this edition in my head, I thought back to what I made when I started sewing again. Duh!....why didn't I think of it earlier. It was a supecute halter-neck dress with a lined bodice. It looked great on little one and was pretty easy to make. You can make this either halter neck or with criss-crossing ties on the back. I will be providing instructions for both.


Fabric: 1 yd if using single color
            1/2 yd each of two co-ordinating colors if using 2

Grosgrain Ribbon: 3/8 inch wide : A little over one yd ( 1/2 yd. if making halter neck)
Elastic: About 6 inches
1 cute button, if you're making halter neck

Regular sewing supplies: Scissor, pencil ( washable marker), measuring tape


1. Measure the child around the waist: lets call it W.

W1 = (W/2) + 2 inches

W2 = 1.5 W

2. Measure the child from where you want the neckline to start and where you want the bodice to end. Lets call it B. Add one inch to it. Lets call it B1

3. Measure the length from where bodice ends and where you want the dress to end.Lets call it S. Add 1 inch to it...this is S1

free dress pattern
From the fabric for skirt cut a rectangle of  W2 wide and S1 length. Set Aside.

cutting bodice for halter neck dress
From the fabric for bodice.

how to sew halter neck dress
Fold it in half widthwise.

cutting out bodice
Now fold it in half again lengthwise.

drafting bodice tutorial
Now at the fold Measure B1 on the length. Mark it A

drafting halter neck bodice
Now measure W1 on the width, starting from fold. Mark it. B

how to draft halter neck bodice
Now where W1 ends, measure 3 inches upwards. Mark it C.

cutting bodice for halter neck dress
Now using your measuring tape, Draw a line from A To C.

free dress pattern
Once you have the straight line use it as a guide to draw a curve ( concave live) below this line.
(You can also use this line as is, but I feel a curved neckline on bodice looks better. I have also see convex
curve on bodice as well and that also looks good, you can go with conve curve if you like it better.)

dress sewing pattern
Cut from A to along this curved line.

how to sew a dress
Also cut from the bottom of A to B to separate out the bodice an lining pieces.

sewing belt loops with grosgrain
Cut two pieces of ribbon, about 2.5 inches each. (Mine are bigger but I think a little smaller loops would be better)

attaching loops to halter neck bodice

Mark 3 inches from the ends of bodice on the curved line, on all 4 ends.


Now place the two bodice pieces one over the other right sides together.

Sandwich loops of ribbon pieces at 4inches marks that you made earlier.

Now make a big loop of the remaining ribbon. Sandwich it at the top of neckline, where the curved line ends.

Sew along the curved line, making sure to catch both fabric layers and both ends of the ribbon loops.

Snip out small triangles along the curved line to make the curve turn out smoothly, make sure you don't cut
any of the seams. Snip out the peak of triangle too, but leave at least a small seam allowance, if you cut too close, there's a chance that, ribbons may come undone.

Turn out and iron. This is where little one decided to help me :D

Now open the two layers and join at the ends right sides together to close the bodice.

Now lets work on the skirt:
Sew the sides right side together to make a tube.

Sew two parallel seams at the top of the tube and pull bobbin threads to gather. Try to keep more gathers on the front of the skirt. ( That is away from the joining seam, because that would go on the back.) Stop when the width of the tube becomes equal to the width of the bodice.

Sew the bodice and the skirt, right sides together. Make sure that the seam of the skirt lines up with the seam of the bodice.

Leaving about one inch gap from one of the ribbon loops.

Now insert the elastic. Remember we are adding elastic to  only the back of the dress. So just insert the elastic 1inches out from the loops. Gather the bodice between the elastic so the total length of bodice becomes half of what it was earlier. This step is optional, but having an elastic in the back would ensure that the dress fits your little one for longer time.

Stitch the elastic in place( go over it 3-4 times for strength) and sew over the gap to join the bodice fully to the skirt. Turn out. Cut the bigger Ribbon loop at the neck to mak two separate ties

Here's how you will tie the ribbon.

sewing strawberry vanilla dress
lined bodice dress tutorial

Hem the bottom of the dress. And Done!

Doesn't it remind you of a cold, strawberry vanilla fresh!  andYum!

Halter neck:
If you'd rather make a halter neck, just skip the part where you add small ribbon loops to the bodice, just add the bigger loop. Once you make the dress, and cut the ribbon into two try the dress on you little one, and measure how much ribbon you would need to tie it at the back of her neck. Now snip of the rest of the ribbon and make a loop from one end of the ribbon. Sew a cute button on the other end of the ribbon. Now you can button these ties behind her neck. I strongly recommend against tying the ribbon behind a child's neck. Thats a big starngulation hazard for a little one.

You have a variety of options for the skirt as well. You can use two layers instead of one. Make the top layer about half of the bottom layer and you have a frilly flouncy dress.

Add a frill of gathered fabric ( either bodice fabric or some other coordinating fabric) at the hemline, instead of plain hem. That would really add a lot of interest to the dress.

Add a bias tape instead of plain hem.

So there you have it!  Lined bodice dress. Smile and Sew!

strawberry vanilla dress pattern

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hello Kitty Tee - Fabric painting mini tutorial

Fabric Painting Mini Tutorial
hello kitty tshirt sewing
Remember the McQueen Tee, I showed last week. While it was hung on our wall waiting for the fabric paint to dry, little munchkin made a lot of fuss about wanting to have that one for herself. We had a hard time explaining to her that it wasn't meant for her. ( How do you reason with a two year old?). She made it pretty clear that even though she is not throwing a tantrum, she is not liking the fact that she is deprived of the Tee she liked. At that time I promised her that I would make another one for her.

Not that she remembers it, but of course, how could I not make one for her? So here's my second go at raglan tee and fabric painting. Wanna see a close-up of the hello kitty motif?

painting hello kitty

Yep! My fabric painting in all its flaws glory.
Since some of you asked...Here's how I do it:
I basically draw the motif on the paper  and redraw and redraw until I'm happy with my sketch and its size. Then I cut it out, position it on the Tee and retrace the boundaries with a black fabric marker. I always make sure that I keep a paper or heavy cloth sandwiched between the front and back of the tee, just in case marker bleeds through the fabric. Once I trace the boundaries, I remove the paper cut out and fill in the details with marker. I just eyeball them, but if you want to be more precise you can also cut parts of motif and fit them in their place and trace them as well. Once I have sketched the whole thing, I just fill each area with fabric paints and let it dry for 10-12 hours. Once the paint dries, I redo the boundaries with black marker to make it look neater. After 24 hours iron the whole thing from reverse side to set the paint.There, painting done.

embellishing with fabric painting

Well the munchkin doesn't care for this one. Go figure :/

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Link Love for new posts:

Blooms And Bugs Blog: Link Love

Image courtsey Sullivan via MorgueFile

Last few Sew Easy Tutorials have been featured at a lots of places. It just goes on to show that people are interested in sewing, its just that they are looking for some quick and easy projects to begin with.

Sew Easy - Part 3 (Butterfly Shrug Tutorial) has been featured at Craftgossip. It was also featured at One Pretty Thing.

Sew Easy - Part 4 (Kaftan Tunic Tutorial) was featured at Craftgossip and WhipUp

Thanks a lot and welcome to the readers stopping by from Craftgossip, One Pretty Thing and Whip Up. Hope you have fun here. Don't forget to take a look at some of the popular posts listed on the sidebar. Happy sewing.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sew Easy - Part 4 - Lets get a little selfish

Sew Easy Tutorial: How to sew a Kaftan Top
sewing kaftan poncho

You can read the story behind this series and the first part here. The second and third edition of this series are here and here.

So we have made a couple of things for wee ones so far, now lets get a little selfish and make something for ourselves. The inspiration of this garment came during a recent party I attended. I couldn't help but notice the disproportionate number of women wearing some sort of poncho dress/tunic/top. 

After coming home I researched a bit - I looked around at various stores selling clothes for what was in vogue...and I was surprised by how many variations of this dress came up in my search. They're all over the place from Target to Anthropologie. They are called different things like Kaftan, poncho, kimono sleeves, but the basic idea is same.
They are so easy to make and they are trendy. So why not make one for ourselves.

So without further ado - I give you Kaftan dress tutorial.


1. Fabric - For this project you will need a fabric which is  60 inches wide instead of the regular 36. Also quilting cottons/linen may not be the best the options. Try to go with a printed sheer fabric, or a soft silken fabric. The flowy the fabric, the better drape you will get because the dress/top in itself is not really close fit. - 60 inches 

2. Bias Tape: Matching or contrast to the fabric. Depending on the fabric, you may want to get a satin/silk bias tape instead of regular cotton ones: ~ 1yds

3. Trim - Matching the fabric - Or you could also use the bias tape ~ 10 yds

4. Safety pins - 10

Now lets take it to the cutting board:

kaftan top sewing tutorial

how to sew a kaftan

Spread the fabric evenly on a flat surface. Now Fold it diagonally such that you get the biggest square possible. Cut where this triangle ends ( shown in the pic). You're basically making as big a square out of this
fabric as possible.

kaftan sewing tutorial
Now fold this triangle into half again to get a smaller triangle.
how to draft a kaftan

 Now get a top whose back neck is the shape you're comfortable with ( and smaller than front). Fold it in half lengthwise, mark the center of the back neck. For the top I had, the center of back neck was already known because of the opening. Just use it as a guide and cut the neck at the fold of triangle you just made.

Now cut it on the fold. Make some small marking where the shoulders of this neck are.
This is how it will look like when you open it. Look at the small marks for shoulders.
Now fold the whole fabric lengthwise and make sure the shoulder marks are meeting. Now measure a front neck depth you're comfortable with and mark it below the shoulder marks you have from the back neck. Also make another mark on the fold at the same depth, by making a horizontal line from the earlier mark Now draw a diagonal line from shoulder marks to the depth mark you just made on the fold and cut along this line.
This will be your front neck.  You can totally cut any other shape of neck but I felt V looks better in this style and its also easier to finish.
Sew Easy Tip 1: while determining the depth of neck, err on the side of caution. If you're not comfortable with plunging necklines, take the depth a little less than desired. This is because its a loose fit and shoulder are not defined so the neck may shift a bit while you're wearing it, resulting in a plunging neckline.

Now gently slip it over you head and try it in front of a mirror. Don't worry if it looks gigantic at this point. We'll work on that next. Right now just find out the right points where you want your armholes to end and pin it on both layers. Also get a point closer to the bust-line and mark it with a safety pin also. You don't want it to fit too closely, just keep it a little loose but shapely. Do the same on the other side. You may want a friend to help you with this step, because the fabric is slippery it may be difficult to find the right points while still maintaining the symmetry.

Now carefully slip out of the fabric and spread it on an even surface.
See these arrows? That is where we have our safety pins. As you can see they are not symmetrical, thats ok.
We'll fix that now. Start with the side that is farther from the neck. In this case, left side. First mark all four points with a vanishing/washable marker and take out the pins. Now even out fabric, make sure that the shoulder markings we made are on the fold, the fabric is lying symmetrically and then safety-pin left side marks again on both layers. Now we have ensured that on left side the placement of pins is nice and even on both layers.


Now add one more pins towards the bottom such that it follows your body shape and a little flaired at the bottom. Dont sweat it too much because we have already measured ourselves at the widest part of our torso
so as long as you mark the last point outer than first one it will be ok. The pic above sort of shows my placement of pins, It just isn't very clear. You can also use a loose fitting A line dress/top to mark these.

7. Now fold this lengthwise such that the pins are sandwiched between the folds. Make sure the fabric is symmetrical. Now just feel the pins with your hand and mark the points where they are located, what we're doing is transferring the markings of th left side to the right side to make both sides even. Now open the fold and put safety pins on these marks. 


 Now just connect the pins on each side into a curvy line with a washable marker or tailor's chalk and sew along both lines Wrong sides together. Yes the seams are exposed in this style because seam allowance becomes sleeves. Its difficult to see the seam in the above pic because of matching thread but if you look carefully, you will see a curvy line at the center of the pic.


Lets give it some more definition now:
Spread your favorite top ( best results with a kimono sleeved top ). Now try to follow the curve of this top 
while still staying 3-4 inches away from the top. this would mean that your sleeves will be longer than this 
top and there will be ruffles hanging near the waist, but don't worry , we will try it again and trim it before we commit to anything. Just try to get closer to the seam towards the bottom but still with a 1.5-2 inch margin
Also shape the hemline if you want it to be more rounded than triangular as it is right now.

Here's your top after cutting. Now try it and see if you like the fit, length of sleeves, depth of neck etc. Now, is the time to speak ( and adjust). If you would prefer to wear it with a belt, try that too now.

11. So you like the basic structure of the top by now. Now lets finish it. 
First the neckline:
Turn the top inside out  - start from the bottom of the V in front and sew it around the neckline leave some extra tape at the ends. Turn the top inside out again

Topstitch as close to the edges as possible. Now snip one en of the bias tape such that it just finishes under the other end. for the other end, just keep enough so it can be folded back and still maintains the shape of neckline. It will be clearer when you are doing it.

Now fold the raw end of bias tape and secure with a running hand-stitch. Please don't rush this step, we're working with difficult to handle fabric and the neckline is the most important part of this particular top. So I highly recommend doing a running stitch top secure the bias tape in its place. Here's a close-up of mine.
Now slowly top-stitch over this hand-stitching. Once you are done you can pick out the hand-stitch by pulling the thread.
Note: I usually avoid sewing pins until it is absolutely necessary, but you can choose them if you think they are more efficient.  I usually  hand-stitch to hold things in place while I sew.

11. We're almost there. Now just take a cup of coffee/tea and get ready for a looooooooong round of  hemming. What we're going to do is hem all the way around sleeves and hemline. Start at the bottom corner of one hem and make your way across the whole length and width o the garment. If you do it right you will get back to the place where you started.
I dont have pics for this step because I was using knit fabric and I skipped this step because knits dont fray.

12. Now sew on a pretty trim all around the hemline ( yes! all around ). I went with a narrow satin ribbon.
Although this step is totally optional, I would still highly recommend it  because this add to the visual appeal of the top/tunic/dress. Since fit is not its biggest pro, we need to add some other visual elements which can add to its charm, unless of course you went with a print so pretty that it didn't need anything else.

Here's the top we've been working on:
Wear it with a pretty belt

or without.
Big thanks to Ashi to model the tunic for me just in time for this tutorial. Thanks a lot girl, you totally rocked the dress.
PS: If you need more inspiration I have pinned  a lot of this style clothes on pinterest. Find Bloomsnbugs on pinterest.  Look at My Style pinboard. 
Happy sewing!