Category Archives: Tutorial

Sew a simple summer dress

One of the nicest things about Summer is the crisp cotton dresses for little girls. My grandaughters love the ‘twirly’ dresses which are made on a traditional design  I used this style for their mothers so often that I must admit I no longer use a pattern. As this style is so simple to create for a child its quicker to draw round them!

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I am writing this post as a tutorial for those who want to have a go. Fans of the The Great British Sewing Bee #GBSB will have seen sewers creating without patterns.  The simplest way for children is to lay them on the floor and draw around their shoulders and sides on newspaper or brown paper. then add the centle curves of the neck and arms. If you get stuck, cut out the paper pattern and then hold onto the child front to get the neck edge in the right place. dont forget to fold the pattern in half down the cente front to make sure both sides are cut even;y!

Cut out two each of the front bodice and two each of the left and right back bodice shapes. This style is for a sleeveless self lined bodice which is an easy technique once you know the tips to make it.

First stitch the front bodice to the back bodice by sewing the shoulder seams on both bodices.

Stitching bodice

 

The next task is to carefully pin the right sides together of both external and intetnal bodices together. being careful to match round the neck and sleeves.

Starting at the bottom of the back edge. stitch all the way round the back edge, back neck, front curved neck, back neck and down the back edge to finish off at what will be the waist.

Next stitch round both armholes. The bodice side seams should still be open at this stage.

The secret of a nice edge is to trim the curved seams by cutting little triangles out of the curved seam allowances.

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Next turn the bodice right sie out by from the front of the bodice, reach through to drag the back bodice through the shoulder seam.IMGP0590

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Repeat for the other bodice back and you should now have a bodice which look like this. Now press the seams carefully.

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By doing this way, all the seams are inside and neat.  At this point if you want to add a back tie or buton belt into the side seams pin them in place now. A ribbon belt also looks good.

The next task is to open it up slightly so that you can match the side seams front and back and stitch right round the outside and inside of each side seam.

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Turn the bodice so its right side out and  press the side seams.

The skirt is easy. its just the width of the fabric cut to the length required from the waist to the hem length multiplied by two.  Both selves edges are sewn to form a wide tube and then I cut up the middle of one side of the tube to form what will be a back seam.

Then either by a basting (long  and loose) stitch on the machine or by hand, run two matching rows of gathering stitches around what will be the waist edge of the skirt. ending at the open back seam. Pull up the gathers to meet the width of the bodice top. If you just pull up the bobbin threads it creates a nice even gathering which can slide along the thread.

Now is the time to sew up the skirt back but stop and leave at least 3 inches from the top gathers.  The seam allowance will need to be turned back on the inside to form the self facing.

skirt gathering

Line up the skirt with the front bodice piece, matching the side seams of the skirt with the dress side seams and pin or baste.  Make sure you align the skirt facing right to the end of the bodice back.

Stitch the skirt to only the front bodice piece making sure the gathers are spread evenly around the bodice. The inside bodice is still open at the waist edge.  this can either be hand slip stitched into place or pinned and tacked and carefully topstitched from the front.

The back bodice can have buttons and button holes, or for ease of toddler dresses, My grandchildren love the Kam snaps poppers which are really easy to use.

I also like my belts to contrast at the front and are top stiched on the front bodice only at the end of the finished dress.  The addition of a belt pulls in any slack at the back waist.

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One twirly dress finished, which was made in an evening so that my granddaughter could wear a ‘finding nemo’ dress for the last minute school under the sea themed day.

How to make a Cloth Pocket Nappy

My daughters have always used cloth reusable nappies on my grand children.  They have stroked the soft fluffy nappies, and stalked for the most sought after designs.  I never knew there was such a thing as designer diapers as the say across the pond.  But I suppose celebrities have started a trade in unique custom baby bums.  No longer are nappies the plain white square of terry towelling with intricate folding techniques for when my children were babies.

As they ‘encouraged’ me to buy the babies the fancy fleecy nappies I thought that they can’t been too hard to make.  So I cut round one and had a go!   It was actually easier than I expected, so if you can use a sewing machine and want to design your own nappies, then have a go.  After all, whats the worst that can happen, we know what goes in them when they are used.

The basic Pocket Nappy consists of three.basic layers.

  • A fleece or fancy fabric outer layer
  • A PUL layer (the waterproof part)
  • The soft micro fleece inside (next to babies skin)
    1.  Cut out all three layers to the basic shape – I will try to get a copy of the pattern loaded up here for you to download.
    2. Next you have to make the ‘pocket’ where the absorbent filler goes.  I used a simple rectangle of the same micro fleece inner and drew a straight line.  I stitched  all around the line with a quarter-inch space from the line.  Next snip up the line and into the corners of the rectangle.  What you are making is the same as an insert zip or pocket.IMGP0219
    3. Turn the spare fabric through the slot you have just cut and turn to the back and topstitch around the opening as shown below.IMGP0220
    4. Next I pinned the PUL Layer and External fabric around the legs and edges ready to stitch. Make sure you do not pin in the centre of the fabric as the pins will go through the polyurethane fabric layer so the nappy will leak.IMGP0221
    5. I had bought some fold over elastic which is a bit like ordinary elastic but is prefolded like Bias binding. I carefully matched the fold of the elastic with the edges of the nappy and slightly stretched the elastic around the leg area.  As I stitched I made sure I caught in both top and bottom of the fold over elastic and it encased the layers of fleece.IMGP0223

 

    1. That done all that was left to do was to stitch on the velcro or aplix (softer velcro) to create the fastenings.IMGP0224

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  1. Voila!  one unique custom nappy.  I had embroidered a pirate and a customised name on the one I made but you could add frills or fancy fabrics

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Go on, have a go. Wrap you baby in hand-made customised nappies and safe the environment from disposable nappies!

Sewing Machine Bag

Sewing machine bag

 

My lovely Janome has a slight problem with the internal light fitting.  As its still under the warranty, I have to send it back to the shop for a repair.  The lovely man Duke from http://www.sewingmachine-sales.co.uk/ told me to pack it up in the original box and it would be collected from home and delivered back once it was done.  Fantastic service I thought.  But there was one problem.  The original packing box was so big, it took over the back bedroom so it went to the recyling.  The pretty black cover which Janome supplied is lovely as a cover but not realy protective for the machine,  so I decided to make my own carry bag to protect the machine on its trip in the van.

Hubby had ‘found’ a large roll of what seems to be 3mm thick heavy interfacing.  I used some vintage curtains from my stash and created a bag shape with velcro top closure.  The machine can be lowered into the bag and where the base is larger than the top, I threaded some pretty ribbon through the sides and used it to pull up to size.  This means that the Machine handle is still accessible to carry the heavy machine but the pretty padded bag protects all screens and acessories.

I think the vintage look is growing on me!  Practical and pretty.

You can get the free tutorial instructions  here Scrapdragon Sewing Machine Bag