Thursday, August 18, 2011

You Are My Sunshine Dress -- A T-shirt Refashion & Tutorial

What makes me happy when skies are gray? This little girl does, and so does this dress I made for her.

It reminds me of rays of sunshine, so I decided to call it the You Are My Sunshine dress. 

A while back, you may recall, my mom gave me a bag of her old shirts. First, I made this dress: Upcycled T-shirt Dress. I've been meaning to make another one, and I finally got around to making it. Several people mentioned that they'd be interested in a little more in-depth tutorial, so this time I took pictures. I did a few things differently this time, but I'll try to make note of that in the tutorial.

Start with a t-shirt.

Fold the shirt sort of in half, thinking about how wide you want the dress to be. Cut along one side of the shirt (leaving one side seam intact).

Still keeping it folded, determine how long you want your dress. Cut it off straight at the top, then make arm holes by cutting a sort of J shape.

Remember, you are leaving one seam intact, so when you open it up, it will look like this.

To make casings, fold down the top of both the front of the back. Knit doesn't ravel, so you could just fold it down once. I wanted a little more finished look, so I folded it twice.

Stitch along the bottom fold, leaving each end open (you'll be inserting elastic later). I also wanted a little ruffling effect across the top, so I did another row of stitches.

When I made the first dress, I wanted the ruffles to extend over the side seams and cross from the front a little onto the back. So I didn't do the ruffles until after I had done the side seams. For this dress, I wanted the ruffles to come out of the side seam, so I added them first. To make the ruffles, I cut 1-inch strips from the remaining t-shirt fabric. Then I used the magic ruffle technique (put your tension as high as it will go and your stitch length as long as it will go. Stitch down the middle of the strip, and it will magically ruffle for you).

Next, I arranged the ruffles how I wanted them and pinned them down. I stitched down the center of each one to attach it to the dress. I used a zig-zag stitch because that allows for a little more stretch.

Then I pinned the side seam right sides together and stitched the side seam with a straight stitch.
Trim the uneven edges.

Then sew a zig-zag or over-edge stitch to reinforce the seam.

Turn it right side out and admire your work so far.

At this point, I still had one ruffle strip left over, so I decided to add it to the neckline. I just stitched it on below the casing.

Insert some 1/4 inch elastic. Stitch it down on one end, then figure out how long you want it to be and stitch it down on the other side, gathering the fabric along the elastic.

There wasn't enough t-shirt left to make the straps, so I used an old white t-shirt instead. I cut 2-inch strips, folded each side into the middle and pressed. Then I folded it down the middle and pressed it. Basically, you're making double-fold bias tape (but with knit, you don't really need to worry about cutting it on the bias). Note: you could just fold the strip of knit in half and leave the raw edges exposed. That's what I did on the first dress.

Pin the strip onto the armhole, sandwiching the dress fabric between the strip. Sew carefully along the edge from end to end, making sure to catch all the layers. Make sure you sew all the way from one end to the other--the rest of the strip is going to be the ties/straps. (Confession: there were a few places where I missed the bottom layer of the strip, so I just went back and sewed in those spots. Not exactly the neatest method, but who's going to be studying my little girl's dress that closely?)

And there you go! A cute and comfy dress for your little one.

And here are some more shots of the dress in action. Miss Eliza was not in the mood for posing for me.
"I can't hear you, Mommy!"

These last three were taken at the park at the end of the day. It had been a long day of playing, getting messy, and eating peaches, so the dress was a wee bit dirty. Well-used and loved already!

If you make anything following this tutorial, I'd love to see it! And as always, be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

A few more dresses will be coming soon!

Until next time,


I linked up at:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shut the Front Door

I knew from the beginning that my last wreath wouldn't stay on my door for very long. That's the problem with holiday decorating. You gotta take it down in a timely manner. 

So I retired my 4th of July wreath. I needed something new to put in its place. Introducing my latest yarn wreath creation:
The flowers are made from felt, burlap, tulle, old t-shirts, and some spray-painted buttons. I found the little "S" at Michael's in the clearance bin for 20 cents. To make the three flowers stand up, I wrapped yarn around some floral wire that I had sitting around. I really love how it turned out! It makes me smile.

Speaking of making me smile, I also added a little vinyl to the front door. I was going to do some sort of "Welcome" decoration, but then it occurred to me that we're really more of a casual family, so I went with something a little less formal:

I love it! (But now I'm looking at the picture and realizing how badly I need to repaint the trim on the door. Oh well, that's another project for another day.)

Until next time,


Monday, August 8, 2011

Easiest Dress Ever

 Do you ever feel like you need a break from a project? Like I mentioned earlier, I've been working on a big project the past few weeks. It's not necessarily one huge project, but a bunch of smaller projects all leading to one big thing. And it's been a little stressful. I want to get it right, but I'm kind of making it all up as I go along. 

So anyway, the other day I really felt like making something, but I didn't want to work on the big project. I needed something simple and quick. So I dug out a pillowcase I picked up recently at a thrift shop and set about seeing how quickly I could make a dress for Eliza.

30 minutes, folks. That's all it took. 

Pillowcase dresses are so easy. There are tons of tutorials online for how to make them. But I'll just go ahead and add my how-to to the mix.

1. Start with a pillowcase.               

2. Decide how long you want the dress to be, then cut off the top of the pillowcase
3. Cut your armholes. It's basically a J-shape. If I were doing this again, I'd make the holes a little bit deeper--I sort of forgot that I'd be folding the top down to make a casing for the ribbon..

4. Pin some single-fold bias tape along the right side of one armhole. Don't worry about the ends of the bias tape--they'll be tucked into the casing. (And don't be scared off by the bias tape. This is so easy!)

5. Sew along the crease in the bias tape that is closest to the raw edge of the armhole.

6. Flip the bias tape over to the inside of the armhole. Sew close to the edge. Repeat steps 4 through 6 on the other armhole.

7. Now all you have left is to make the casings along the top of the front and back. Just fold your fabric down about 1/2 inch and press, then fold it down again another 1/2 inch or so and press. Stitch right along the edge to make the casing. Then all that's left is to thread some ribbon through the casing and you're done. I used one long piece of ribbon for this dress, choosing to just tie it on one shoulder. You could use two pieces and tie it at each shoulder.

And voila! You have a sweet new dress! Seriously, the hardest part of this whole project was getting my little model to sit and smile for me.

Until next time,


Friday, August 5, 2011

Where Have I Been? What Happened to July?

Oh. My. Goodness.

Almost a month has passed since my last post? What the heck happened to July? It was here one minute, and the next minute it's August already.

I have a ton of excuses. You want to hear them? It's been a crazy summer. The kids and their activities keep me busy. The weather was hellishly hot for awhile there (and my sewing/crafting area is in the hottest part of the house where air conditioning cannot reach). I had a bout with a stomach bug.

All those excuses are true, but mainly what happened is that I started a bigger project. One that I'm not ready to reveal. The best I can offer you is this little glimpse:

This is just a small part of it. Are you intrigued? I'm getting closer to being ready for the big reveal. Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, I think I found a new obsession: polymer clay. How is it that I've never played with this stuff before? I found this tutorial via Pinterest:

And I thought, "Hey, that looks pretty easy. I could do that!" So I bought myself some clay, played with it for awhile, and here's what I ended up with:

Aren't they cute? Have I mentioned before how obsessed I am with birds? 

So now I can't wait to get myself some more clay and see what I can make. It's so much fun!

Until next time,


Friday, July 8, 2011

Halter Top from an Old T-shirt

I love halter tops on babies. Just so cute! I mean, look from behind!
I was in the mood for making something the other night, but I wasn't sure what. So I dug around in my stash and found this shirt of Kyle's that I had saved. I figured with just a little girlification, it would be great to pass on to Eliza.

I followed this tutorial at The Green Wife as a basic guide for making my halter top.

First, I cut the front of the t-shirt:

Then, I cut a rectangle from the back of the shirt:

I folded down the top edge of the rectangle (opposite the hem) and stitched to make a casing. I used my water-soluble fabric pen to make a straight line to make sure I was stitching straight.
Then I threaded some 1/4" elastic through the casing and set it aside.
Next, I took a different shirt and cut three strips from it, about 2" wide. I folded them in half lengthwise, pressed, then opened them up and pressed each side toward the middle line. Then I folded it in half again and re-pressed. (Basically, making a sort of bias tape, except it wasn't actually cut on the bias.)

I cut one of the strips to about the same size as the top edge of the shirt and attached it like bias tape.

Then I took the remaining two strips and, starting at the underarm curve, pinned them to the front piece. I wasn't sure how long I needed the straps to be, so I left them as long as possible. I trimmed them later after I had tried the shirt on Eliza, although I left them a little long because I just love the big bow. Anyway, I stitched the entire length of the strip to attach it and make the straps.

Next I grabbed the back piece and figured out how tight I wanted the elastic to be. I don't have a measurement; I just guessed, and in hindsight, I probably should have made it a little tighter. Luckily, the sizing is very forgiving for this style of shirt. I tacked the elastic in place with a few stitches on each side.

Then I pinned the back piece to the front piece, right sides facing.

Finally, I stitched the side seams. I finished it off with a zig-zag stitch to make sure the seams were strong.

And I was finished! It was really easy!

Then, I decided she needed some matching shorts. I had plenty of fabric left over from the second t-shirt, so I made some simple shorts following this tutorial by the Sewing Dork on Brown Paper Packages (except, obviously, I made them shorts-length and didn't do the pocket or the apron). I didn't take pictures because her tutorial is wonderful. If you want to make pants or shorts, just use her tutorial. One thing that made the shorts super-fast to whip up was that I used the existing hem on the t-shirt as the hem for the shorts. 

But I couldn't leave well enough alone. I tried to leave the shorts plain, but something was bugging me. I finally appeased myself and added some little ruffle bows with buttons. Just enough of an extra something so they weren't completely plain.

Eliza wore the outfit to the amusement park yesterday. It was a hot day, but she stayed pretty comfy in her halter top. 

I think soon I'm going to make her another one out of a longer shirt, so it can be a dress. Won't that be cute?

OK, just one more picture, and then I'll stop. 

Until next time,