Monday, May 28, 2012

Cotton summer skirts.

Over at the blog Crafterhours Skirt Week 2012 (which really is a month but who is counting) is in full swing and that made me think about what skirts I have made lately. And my next thought was that they would be kind of perfect to show here on the blog so here we go.....
It is basically the same skirt in two different fabrics and with the only difference that the orange is fuller than the leopard and the leopard has deeper pockets (which you can't see from the outside but they fit my long monkey arms better).

I made the orange one first for a vacation in Florida earlier in the year and even though I was happy with the result (except for the not deep enough pockets) my original idea was a skirt less full.....and that is where the leopard one comes in the picture because that was the next attempt. 
The orange fabric is 100% quilting cotton from Kaffe Fassett Collective 2010 Dapple Orange. The leopard fabric is a crispy cotton poplin (both bought a 

The model itself is very simple - if we can just forget the pockets at first (and still with pockets is it a project a new beginner could do). Basically two rectangles sewn together, gathered and sewn on to a bit smaller waistband. Divide the waistband into 4 casings/canals, put elastic in at a length that fit the place you want to skirt to sit (waist, below waist etc) in the 3 bottom casings, hem the skirt and wupti you are done. 
And no this was not a full tutorial. It should be enough though for a more experienced sewer to understand what to do when they get the measurements later in this post. If you are a not such an experienced sewer (and you are very welcome here too) I would recommend you to go to this very talented lady's website: Marapytta. It is in Danish (because Line is Danish and live in Denmark so I guess that is kind of fair enough.) BUT the DIY I am going to tell you about has brilliant photos and you should be able to figure it out from them. 
It is this DIY that taught me to make the waistband a bit smaller than the skirt piece in skirts with elastic waists because then you are dividing the gathering better by using both gathering thread which will be fixated when you sew the waistband on the skirt and elastic that gives the waistband flexibility. Clever! 

A closer look at the elastic waistband and front pockets. A piping along the pocket opening would be a nice detail by the way.

The orange skirt has a finished bottom circumference of 210 cm (82.6 inches). The leopard is 150 cm (59 inches) all the way around. This still gives plenty of gathering at the waist and room to take steps without need of a slit but it does have a less full look. I like and wear them both for everyday life but my favorite at the moment is the leopard one. Which one is yours?

Yeah I know what you are thinking....she should have ironed her skirt before she took photos (I know I would!) .....and I DID iron it! But like I mentioned before the fabric is kind of crispy (like nice bedsheets) and lazy me are throwing garments like that in the tumble dryer and that has given it some crinkles that does not go least not with my household iron. Oh well it is an everyday cotton skirt and my everyday can take some crinkles.

Last shot from the back of the skirt.....and of the fence that needs painting. But we are still expatriates and are renting this house so not our problem - phew!

Because the skirt itself is so simple I would definitely recommend to make a big hem like I have done on these two skirts (9+1 cm (4 inches)). It is one of those tricks that makes your garments look more exclusive and nice simply because of that extra fabric that has been used. An extra bonus is that that is very easy to do in a skirt that has a square pattern/starting point like this one. 
If you were making a skirt from a circle pattern you would have to make a separate facing to make a high hem like this because well that is simple mathematics (even though it is going to sound complicated in writing, sorry!)....the circle's circumference is much higher on the outside than further up on the circle where you have to stitch the hem to the skirt. Got it? I hope! Otherwise forget about it because this skirt's hem is straight and therefor you simply add whatever length of hem you want to the pattern. 
And the tutorial for this hem is fold, iron, sew, iron, done!

Okay so since I just posted a detailed full sewing tutorial for this skirt I thought that I would focus more on the pattern in this post.

Here you see the back skirt pattern piece. This pattern piece is made 'to fold' which means the CB (center back) will be where the fold is and the piece of fabric you cut after this pattern will be double size in the width. To do it this way is simply just a way to save paper  and you can of course only do it to patterns pieces that are symmetrical. 

Here you see the front skirt pattern piece. This also has to be cut 'to fold'. You can make your side pockets round or straight or square (Yippie, more options!)
When you decide on your type of pocket you draw the line and then add the sewing allowance you sew with. I use 1 cm.

Before you cut out your pocket opening on the front skirt piece you have to make a what I call a back pocket bag. This pattern piece is going to fill out the front skirt piece so that it becomes a full rectangle again - you are going to cut of the corners for pocket openings remember. 
By the way you can see here that I have extended the pattern for the leopard version so the pocket became deeper.

Here you see the front pocket bag pattern. This is made by tracing your pocket opening and then trace the back pocket so the front and back pocket is the exact same size.

Last pattern piece is for the waistband. Again I have made this 'to fold' so what you see here is half of the fabric piece you are going to end up with after cutting. By the way you need two pieces - a front and a back.

Some measurements would probably help the project along too.
Since this skirts is made of big rectangles that you gather together with elastic the only measurement that has to fit you precisely is the length of the elastic you put in the waistband. And the length of the skirt.
I am a size 38-40 (US: 6-8) and I should mean this skirt could be used for size 34-42 (US: 2-10) - with different length elastic in the waistband. 
I am 178 cm tall (5"10) and I have made the finished skirt 61 cm (24 inches).

I will give you the measurements of the pattern pieces as you see them on the photos above. 
Remember the patterns are made 'to fold' and you have to multiply with two to get the full front (or back) width and four to get the full skirt's or waistband's circumference. 

Front + back skirt (orange - fuller skirt): 
Width: 52.5+1 cm = 53.5 cm (width, skirt+seam allowance)
Length: 1+56+10 cm = 67 cm (seam allowance, top+length skirt+seam allowance, hem)
Front + back skirt (leopard - less full skirt):

Width: 37.5+1 cm = 38.5 cm (width, skirt+seam allowance)
Length: 1+56+10 cm = 67 cm (seam allowance, top+length skirt+seam allowance, hem)

Front + back waistband (orange & leopard): 
Width: 29+1 cm = 30 cm (width, waistband+seam allowance)
Height: 1+5+5+1 cm = 12 cm (seam allowance+waistband, outside+ waistband, inside+seam allowance)

The pockets are obviously hard to give measurements to because of the round lines but I will give you the width and height of the pocket bag and then I am sure you figure out the rest. Besides even the height and width will depend on what type/style of side pocket you decide to make.

Front and back pocket bag (orange & leopard): 
Width: 1+16+1 cm = 18 cm (seam allowance+pocket+ seam allowance)
Height: 1+32.5+1 cm = 34.5 cm (seam allowance+pocket+ seam allowance)

If you are wondering why the measurements are only in cm it is because I still do not know what you Americans are using as seam allowance but I can recommend Please let me know if I can help in any way!

Okay, I think we are through here.

This skirt is only for private use.
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yep, she definitely likes her new skirt!

Okay Mommy I will give you one shot.
And now I am leaving. Bye!

If you want to make your child as happy as I did this afternoon you can find a tutorial for this skirt (minus the pockets) here. By the way not sure about the placement of those pockets. Next time I will try to put them more on the side and further time next time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tutorial - color block a-line skirt.

I am VERY excited to finally make this post. A REAL tutorial with measurements and full sewing instructions to make a color block a-line skirt with elastic waist including a little ruffle waist (did I just invent a word there?) in size 2-3 and 4-5 years old. And it's very easy to change to other sizes. Which I will give an example of a little further down in the worst hustler way.
I am very happy for this skirt for many reasons. I love the a-line shape. You don't see that shape to girls as often as the full skirt. And this shape is still loose enough for them to move freely. It's very easy to sew and you can use up all those long leftover pieces all sewers has lying around after using most of a piece of fabric. And it is a basic shape that has so many possibilities by for example adding different pockets, belt loops, a bow maybe (like these shorts, remember). 
I will try to make this tutorial so even beginners can follow but also try to add tips for the more experienced sewer to give your garment a professional look.

First you need to make a pattern. The reason I can even do this full tutorial is that the pattern consists of only 3 pieces and they are all rectangles.
Since I am European and is mostly familiar with the Metric system the measurements in this tutorial will be in centimeter. But PLEASE let me know if I in any way can help if you are American and would like to make the skirt and is unable to because of this.
I usually use this website when I need to convert measurements and I was planning on doing both a European and an American version in this tutorial but realized I don't even know what you American sewers use normally for seam allowance. Would love to know though! 

Size 4-5 year old.
Top skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 5+10+1=16 cm (seam allowance, ruffle waist+height+seam allowance)

Mid skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+10+1=12 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance)

Bottom skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+10+4=15 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance, hem)

Finished skirt length: 30 cm

Top skirt pattern piece.
 Mid skirt pattern piece.
Bottom skirt pattern piece.

As you can see do they all have a 1,5 cm fold in the height. That because I can be a bit of a cheater sometimes and here comes the hustler tip: My 2 and 4 year old have kind of the same waist size so it only had to be shorter and I found out that 4,5 cm would do it......A very easy calculation tells me that I need to subtract 1,5 cm in the height of each of the 3 pattern pieces and I should of course have made a new pattern but ohhh come on it was sooooo much easier to just fold each piece and make it 1,5 cm shorter in height.
Here comes the measurements for the size 2-3 years old.
Top skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 5+8,5+1=16 cm (seam allowance, ruffle waist+height+seam allowance)

Mid skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+8,5+1=12 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance)

Bottom skirt piece x 1:
Length: 1+66+1= 68 cm (seam allowance+length+seam allowance)
Height: 1+8,5+4=15 cm (seam allowance+height+seam allowance, hem)

Finished skirt length: 25,5 cm

Now to the fun part - picking out the three fabrics you want to use for your skirt. I had a little helper today. I was choosing fabrics for two skirts and cut them both today. The pictures from the sewing part of this tutorial is just of the skirt with the ice cream fabric (from Jo Ann Fabric - so crazy cute.)

These are the 2 x 3 combinations I choose from my fabric stash. 
Flowers for the 2 year old and ice cream for the 4 year old.

Cut out the three pattern pieces. One of each of the three fabrics you have chosen. This pattern's height runs along the selvedge (see this sewing glossary for more info in case you have no idea what I am talking about.)

Before you start doing any sewing you can pre iron your ruffle waist/elastic casing plus the hem for easier sewing later.
First fold the top of the top skirt pattern down 5 cm and iron.

Then unfold the 5 cm and fold down 1 cm and iron.

Take your bottom skirt piece and fold the hem 4 cm and iron.

Unfold the 4 cm hem and fold 1 cm and iron.

Time to sew. I chose a neutral color that goes with all the three colors. If I was sewing a skirt with very different colors I would be changing thread (also on the overlock/serger) so it matches what I am sewing. Yes, this seems a little annoying and time consuming but it is one of those 'tricks' that will make your finished product look better and more professional.
Sew each long piece's side seam together first. Again the finished product will look better if you sew it in this order....not sure why, it just does :-) Or more correctly one of those things I have a hard time explaining in English, sorry!
Overlock each seam.

Iron the seams. All the same way and with the front side of your overlock seam visible - so you have to think about that before you start overlocking.

Now it is time to sew the top, mid and bottom piece together.

Make sure your three side seams are meeting exactly and that the seam allowances on the inside are ironed the same way (before you start sewing). Another thing that make your garment look professional.
The front side of the skirt will be the one where the inside seam allowances are pointing forward. The skirt looks best that way. It is hard to explain why (especially for me in English) but try it and you will see what I mean.

Here is the skirt after the top, mid and bottom has been sewed together lengthwise and the seam allowanced has been overlocked.

Iron your seams so that the inside seam allowances point upwards. Yes, you know what I am going to say now....professional looking!

Now it is time to make the ruffle waist plus casing for the elastic and hem the skirt. Since these stitches will be visible on the outside of the skirt it is time to change to a perfect matching color. (Yes I know, I am very annoying ;-)

Let us start with the top. You have already pre-ironed the top skirt piece and now you fold it again 4+1 cm and stitch 1 mm from the edge from the inside of the skirt. Make sure to leave a 3-4 cm opening for the elastic to come through. 1,5-2 cm each from the side seam would be a good place to do that. If you are not an experienced sewer it is probably a good idea to put a few needles in to keep it all in place.....and if you care about your sewing machine you should never sew over needles!

Turn the skirt around and stitch 1,5 cm from the top on the outside side of the skirt - this time all the way around. That 1,5 cm at the top will make the ruffle when the elastic comes in.

Here you can see the top of the skirt from the inside including the opening for the elastic.

Your casing for the elastic is 2,5 cm so I use a elastic that is 2 cm wide. For both my girls (size 2-3 and 4-5 yrs old) I cut a piece that is 45 cm long and that includes 1+1 cm seam allowance to sew the elastic together after it has been put through the casing with a safety pin :-)

Here is a photo of the elastic on its way through the opening and the casing.

Overlap the ends of the elastic with 2 cm and sew them together securely.

It is now time to close the opening in the casing and because of the elastic inside I would definitely recommend putting in some needles - just pull them out as you sew. Because I needed my hands to take the photo it does not show you that you stretch out the elastic both ways while you sew.

Almost done here....second last thing to do is to hem the skirt. Again you have done the prepping by iron the bottom of the skirt 3+1 cm and now you stitch 1 mm from the edge on the inside of the skirt.

Last - but not least - iron your skirt. Especially the hem and all the seams. 
I must admit looking at this photo that my finishing ironing could have been better - ohhh well the 'model' is in preschool and I want to post this so no time to take new photos.
Now I will go to my sewing room and sew the skirt in size 2 years old and since they are crazy fast to sew - especially when the pattern are made and the fabric cut - I should be able to post photos of that one tomorrow. Hmmm, maybe I will even put pockets on that one to show some variation possibilities....Uh Mie be careful what you promise!
Here is a link to an earlier post showing another version of this skirt.
Like I said earlier please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding this tutorial.
Please note that this tutorial and the color block a-line skirt is only meant for private use. Please contact me for a limited commercial license permission:
Happy sewing! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Project Run & Play, week 6 - Signature Look.

First of all I would like to say that I would LOVE more members of this blog - just putting it out there :-) Don't get me wrong I am VERY happy for my 10 members but a bigger party would also be GREAT. I know some of you will be thinking ahhhh another thing you have to sign up for (yes, Lone I know you will), but if you already have a gmail-email address then you have a Google account and all you have to do is sign in and press the become member button.....And if you don't already have a Google account it is super simple and easy to get one.........juuuust saying.

And now to what this post is about....last week of  Project Run & Play sew along competition. For me this week's theme - signature look - has been the most fun for me. I have been able to do what I think I do best. My own ideas and no restrictions. I am unfortunately not one of those people who gets more creative when restrictions are applied.
I was even more organized this time and started as early as last weekend AND I was finished today almost a whole hour before I had to pick up Wilma from preschool. Progress! 
When I found out about the theme for this week I knew I had to do something with bright colors, corduroy and color block. But there is a side of me you have not seen so much here on the blog and that is my grandmother style side (flower printed fabrics, shirt dresses, t-strap shoes and cardigans). 
This shirt is another kids version of a style I had when I used to have a women apparel business in Denmark years back. Okay it's not just a is probably one of my favorites styles and the one that sold the best (measured on my small business scale) and that I am most proud of. 
See photos below for the vintage dress that inspired me to make it back then and the dress and shirt I made for my collection. I still love love love those styles and wear them often.
I am not going to say so much about the shorts. They are the same model that I blogged about in this post just in a color block version.

Here you see the vintage dress that inspired me to make the shirt and the dress that you see further below. The smock/gathering on the vintage dress is made non elastic (I am guessing with a special machine?) and therefor you can have the placket in the front. If it was made with normal elastic smock/shirring the placket would be pulled away from each other in the neck area with smock/ do I know....hmmm, I might have tried that before I changed the design to fit my elastic smock :-)

Both photos taken by Kasper Thye. 

The funny thing is that I personally (and I am not just saying this) prefer my design to the vintage dress. Way more sexy. On that note the dress that hit the stores back then got a button that closed the neck line up like 5 cm / 2 inches because the one on the marketing material is a little bit too sexy. Yes, the model looks stellar in it but it does not quite work in the real world. Especially if you like me prefer to dress people for their everyday life and not that one time a week (-month / -year / -century - take your pick) that you go to a party and need a dress like that.
The shirt has buttons on the front all the way down like Wilma's on the first photos.

And now that you all are going to have Google accounts you will be able to comment on this and future posts and I would love to hear those comments. Thanks.