Friday, October 17, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Opal Knit Flutter Dress and Top

You've seen it and loved it, this week I want to give you  an extra look at the newest pattern in The Diva Collection, the Opal Knit Flutter Dress and Top.  Many of you have requested this style in knit and Jen and definitely come through!  This pattern is amazing and I know you'll love it!

The Opal Knit Flutter pattern includes an extended size range from 12-18 months up through girls 9/10.  Included in the pattern is both a tunic length that is perfect for jeans and shorts and a dress length.  The dress length is perfect for pairing with leggings and boots this fall (or spring!). When the weather hits a cold spell, Opal is sweet layered over a tee for extra warmth! Sweet Pea is wearing Opal size two in dress length.  

Opal Knit Flutter pattern is an advanced beginner to intermediate sewing level.  The pattern is quick and simple, but assumes some knowledge of sewing with knits.  If you've not sewn knits before try a pair of Sterling Shorties and Leggings, which includes a full knit tutorial, and then make an Opal Flutter to match!

In addition to length options, Opal also includes a couple of yoke detail options.  I added the ruffle option and love the depth and detail that it adds.  

There is also an adorable bonus tutorial at the end of the pattern for a knit rosette!

Opal sews up quickly and is sure to be a hit with everyone.  Being knit, it is soft and comfortable for everyday wear.  It is a pull over style, which means no buttons or buttonholes! And of course, no ironing required!  I'm sure even the pickiest girl would love to wear an Opal Knit Flutter!

Here's your quick Opal Knit Flutter Dress and Top pattern rundown:

  • Includes sizes 12-18 months through girls 9/10
  • Advanced beginner / intermediate sewing level
  • Dress and tunic lengths included
  • Pullover style
  • Optional bodice ruffle and knit fabric flower

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Spooktacular Halloween!

I hope you caught sight of our gorgeous Ruby Ruffles Skirt pattern, done up in these amazing Spooktacular Too fabrics!  Bats and ghosts and "boos" oh my! I am loving this fresh collection for this Halloween, with its slightly antiqued palette - such a nice change from the usual bright black/orange/purple/lime combinations I usually see for Halloween. Other fabrics in the collection feature black cats, pumpkins, potions and more.

I used Rachel's Reverse Applique Tutorial to embellish a store-bought tee with the cute little ghost and "boo" cut from the fabric motifs. Then I added a little pre-made bow to the ghost just to be sure she would be too cute to spook.

Best of all, I had scraps left over to make a little Halloween mini-bunting using our Fabric Banner tutorial. I just left out the photo pocket, and instead of using bias binding, made the hanging strap from a straight cut of the fabric, selvedge to selvedge, pressed and folded as if it were bias binding.

Happy Halloween!

These fabrics were provided to me free of charge by Blend Fabrics so I can share them with you. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Miss Muffet Twirl Skirt and Button Necklace TeeTutorial

This week I made a Miss Muffet Twirl skirt out of a cute fall floral. And I'm back with another cute and easy way to dress up a purchased tee without an embroidery machine.  I love how easily a simple embellished tee can pull an outfit together!

Miss Muffet Twirl Skirt pattern is for girl in sizes 2-8.  It is a wonderful basic skirt that is perfect for showing off fun fabrics.  It's great for every season too, just change your fabric selection for a whole new look. This pattern is a beginner level sewing pattern.  Straight seams and gathering will result in this beautiful skirt. It is a very quick sew, perfect for picture day tomorrow or a birthday party this weekend.

I think my favorite part of the Miss Muffet skirt pattern is the built in bloomers,  Absolutely perfect for playing in style!  I admit, I didn't add the bloomers to this skirt because we are into tights weather, but in spring and summer they are essential!  The bloomers attach at the waistband and have an elastic casing on the legs.  Perfect for playgrounds and bikes, running and playing, twirling and dancing!

True to it's name, this pattern has optimal twirl-ability!  Sweet Pea thought it was great fun to watch her shadow dance on this super sunny day!

If you're looking to make baby sister a matching skirt look no farther than the Skirted Diaper Cover pattern for babies!

Let's take a quick look at Sweet Pea's button necklace tee.  It was a very quick project and looks adorable!

  • Gather your supplies.  You'll need a purchased tee (I buy mine at the local super-center for under four dollars), rick rack, and buttons. A glue stick and fabric marking pen are also helpful.
  • Start with your tee and rick rack.  I decided to make a double strand necklace.  Play around with length and placement until you like the length and shape. Then use a fabric marking pen to mark your placement.

  • I sewed on my lower loop first.  Heat seal the ends of your rick rack to prevent fraying.  I used a glue stick to secure my rick in place before stitching. Dry your glue stick with a dry iron to prevent any gummy-ness on your sewing needle.  I attached my rickrack with slightly longer straight stitch and used invisible nylon thread in the needle and polyester thread in my bobbin.  I used a size 70 ball point needle for sewing.
  • For the second strand of my necklace I went all the way around the back of the shirt for a true necklace look.  I also covered the ends of my first 'strand' of rickrack. Again, heat seal the ends and glue in place.  The glue in this application makes it very easy to be able to manipulate the tee under the pressure foot of your sewing machine while keeping the rick rack in the right place.

  • Now you're ready for the fun part.  Grab your button collection and play.  I did not use all of these buttons but started by grabbing a bunch from my collection that were the right colors.  For this part I like to have my skirt handy for reference.  After deciding on my button placement I used a dab of glue stick to hold them in place while sewing.  If you prefer not to use glue, I'd suggest marking placement of each button with a fabric marking pen.  I hand stitched each button in place, but you could also sew them on with your sewing machine.

  • Stand back and admire your cute button necklace tee!  I love the fun variety of buttons, The red apples were just perfect!
Just a quick word of caution: this embellishment idea is best for children ages three and over. Please be sure to sew your buttons securely so they do not become a safety hazard.

There you have it one more complete outfit ready for fall.  You'll love it so much I'm sure you'll want to make a Christmas, Valentines, and Easter version too! Fabric selection completely changes the mood of this skirt!

Now for your quick pattern rundown:
  • Miss Muffet Twirl Skirt pattern in sizes 2 - 8
  • Beginner level sewing pattern
  • Make with or without built in bloomers

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Perfect A-Line

This week's dress, as it's name says, is, well, perfect.  I've shown you one version of the Perfect A-Line dress pattern before, this time though, I've made it just for fall.  The Perfect A-Line pattern makes a fabulous jumper.  I love layering it with a tee and tights for that perfect little girl look.

This pattern comes in both baby and girls sizes.  The baby pattern includes five sizes covering 0-24 months; the girls pattern also includes five sizes from 2-6 years.  The Perfect A-line is a great project for seamstresses of every sewing level.  It is truly a beginner level pattern with big bang results.  It is a reversible dress, so you get two looks in one.  It is also a quick sew, easily done in an evening.  Put those together and you have two dresses in the span of one evening.  Fabulous!

I used Jen's amazing Free Gathered Pocket Pattern and Tutorial again (you may have seen this A-line I also made).  Really, this pocket is AMAZING.  It adds that little extra touch to so many TDD patterns.  Try it on a Butterfly Dress, Easy Peasy Peasant, Fair and Square, Storybook Pinafore, and, of course, Perfect A-line.   And what girl doesn't like pockets?  Sweet Pea loves being able to stash goodies in pockets!

Perfect place to carry her baby doll!
For this dress I decided to switch it up and put just one pocket on the chest.  I love that it helps break up the busy floral and pulls the pink tee in perfectly!

I once again used KAMsnaps on the shoulders.  I had all intentions of sewing buttons and buttonholes this time, but my machine decided to act up.  So, I decided it wasn't worth the hassle....bring out the snaps!  I've heard a lot of questions on how to get nice smooth curves on the straps when turning.  I addressed that in my last Perfect A-Line Year of Dresses Post, so be sure to check it out!

Don't you just love how versatile this pattern is?  It works for every season. Can be embellished in endless ways.  It's a perfect canvas for creativity!  It is my favorite pattern for using a holiday themed print with a generic print on the reverse side because after the holidays it can keep being worn.  Embellishments are numerous: add pockets, embroider, add a ruffle.  Wear as a sundress, layer with Sterling Leggings or tights, add a short or long sleeve tee for warmth, dress it up with a cardigan...shall I continue?   Here are 4 dresses, 5 looks (only one was intended as reversible) and each different!

The Christmas side.  
And reverse, perfect for everyday!

With a Tuxedo Ruffle

Two Pockets

One Chest Pocket
Each one is completely different because of the fabric used, the little extra details added, and how it's worn (sundress, short sleeve tee and leggings, long sleeve tee and tights).  Have I mentioned I love this pattern!? On a totally unrelated you see how much my baby has grown since last Christmas! 

And just because she was having a great time with the leaves, I leave you with these:

Here's your quick pattern rundown:

  • Baby sizes 0-24 months
  • Girls sizes 2-6
  • Beginner level pattern
  • Reversible, two dresses in one!
  • No buttonholes required, use snaps if you prefer
  • Wear as a sundress or jumper

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Great Ruffle-Off! Which Gathering Method Is Best?

If you saw the launch of the Ruby Ruffles Skirt pattern last week, you know we've been doing a lot of ruffling at Tie Dye Diva lately! There are many ways to gather a ruffle and everyone seems to have a favorite. For many years, I used the quick, single-pass 'zigzag over a thread' method. Later, I moved on to two threads, both within the seam allowance. Currently, I love a good old-fashioned two-thread gather, with one inside the seam allowance (and this is the one recommended in the Ruby Ruffles pattern).

So, want to see how your favorite method stacks up, or perhaps find a new one to love? We present to you - a tutorial and comparison of seven ways to ruffle, in The Great Ruffle Off!

For each method, I cut woven cotton strips for ruffles each 20" x 2, and gathered them each to 10" (2:1 ratio). To show how the ruffles look on a finished garment, I then sewed each gathered ruffle to 10" strips of woven cotton using a 1/2" seam allowance, pressed the seam allowance to the ungathered side and topstitched.

The pretty fabrics I used here are from the Modern Lace collection by Amanda Murphy for Blend Fabrics, provided to me free of charge so I could bring you this great experiment! See the whole collection at Blend Fabrics' website.

The first three methods are so closely related, I've grouped them. They all involve sewing loose basting threads and gathering along that thread.

Method 1. Two thread gather, one inside seam allowance.

How to do it: Set thread tension set at loosest, stitch length set longest. Sew one row of stitches at 3/8" and one at 5/8". Gently pull only bobbin threads to gather.

Pros: Nice, even, springy gathers.
Cons: Two rows means having to sew down the length of the fabric twice, and the gathering thread outside the seam allowance has to be removed when you're done.

Method 2. One-thread gather.

How to do it: Same as Method 1, but sew only 1 row of thread within seam allowance.

Pros: quick, one-pass.
Cons: Slightly uneven and flatter gather. Requires more skill and time to gather evenly. If the thread breaks, you are out of luck.

Method 3. Two-thread gather both inside seam allowance.

How to to do it: Same as Method 1, but sew both gathering rows within the seam allowance.

Pros: Fairly even gathers, no threads to remove.
Cons: Have to sew two rows, slightly less even and flatter results than Method 1.

Method 4. Zigzag over a thread.

How to do it: Set machine to longest, medium-height zigzag and normal tension. At the beginning edge, lay a thread down about 1/4" from the edge of the fabric - extended the thread past the edge so there is something to hold on to. I usually put the spool in my lap and let it unwind from there. Zigzag stitch over the thread without catching the thread in the zigzags. Pull the thread from both ends to gather.

Pros: Quickly done in one pass. All threads are in seam allowance so nothing to remove. A good method to use when gathering multiple layers at once, because two-thread tends not to work in that situation.
Cons: Not much control over the gather, as it tends to keep sliding around on the thread. Requires more skill to get an even gather. If you don't manage to stay in the seam allowance, you have a lot of zigzag to unpick. Risks the single thread breaking (some use dental floss or carpet thread), or being caught up in the zigzag stitch.

Method 5. Clear elastic.

How to do it: Cut a piece of elastic 2" longer than the length your finished ruffle will be (so, in this case, 2" plus 10" = 12"). Mark 1" from each end so you have a 1" beginning and ending tail to hold on to. Divide the remaining 10" into quarter-points and mark. Divide your ruffle strip into quarter points as well, and pin together, matching quarter points. Set your machine for a zigzag stitch. Stretch the elastic taut as you sew over it, removing pins as you sew. Clip excess elastic.

Pros: Very even gather, nice and stretchy so ideal for gathering a woven to a knit. Acts as a built-in stabilizer for the seam.
Cons: Expensive. Set up takes a while, sewing requires some skill. The stretchiness that remains due to the elastic would be odd for some seams, like the ruffled hem of a dress.

Method 6. Ruffler foot attachment for sewing machine. 

How to do it: Attach ruffler foot, follow manufacturer instructions for your particular foot. Getting the exact ratio is a trial-and-error process, but once you have figured it out for your technique and fabric, you can record the settings for quicker use in the future. My pal Carla at Scientific Seamstress has a great free tutorial on knowing and loving your ruffler foot, which you can download from You Can Make this:

Pros: Actual ruffling process is quick, one pass, and very even, also springy and not flat.
Cons: Getting the settings exactly right takes some time, otherwise ruffles can wind up longer or shorter than the piece you are attaching them to.

Method 7. Tension method.

How to do it: Adjust thread tension to highest and stitch length to longest. And just sew, the fabric will gather as you stitch.

Pros: no setup, very quick. Good to use if you are able to ruffle a very long piece, longer than you need, and cut off excess.
Cons: Some machines do this and some don't. Difficult to control gather ratio. My 20" piece ended up with a very full, but only 7" long ruffle. I tried to gently hand-adjust so the ruffle would be less full and 10" long, but because I had already clipped threads ended up unravelling my ruffle and you can see this flat space at the right side of the photo. With enough practice, adjusting exact tension and stitch length, you could probably get a better 2:1 ratio.

In summary, I was surprised (and perhaps even a little disappointed!) at how similar all the results were! I think part of this is because I was only gathering 20", so there was not a lot of room for unevenness, as there would be on the entire hem of a dress or in the five rows of ruffles on Ruby Ruffles Skirt. Also, I did my best with each method, and where some methods required more time to get the gathers even, I took the extra time.  I still love Method 1 best, and think it and the ruffler foot produce the most beautiful gathers. I can't think of a situation where I'd use the one-thread gather, I am too risk-averse for that, and I wouldn't use the tension method anywhere I was trying to fit a ruffle to a given size.

So in my opinion, the winner and still champion of the Great Ruffle-Off .... two-thread gather, with 1 inside the seam allowance (with ruffler attachment a close second)! Happy ruffling!