Friday, April 17, 2015

A Year of Dresses: Sweet Summer Halter with a Patchwork Skirt Tutorial

The Sweet Summer Halter.... I seriously do not see enough of these dresses! It is such a sweet, unique pattern, and it's perfect for summer days.  I've had in mind for some time to make a patchwork skirt on a dress using charm squares and this pattern was perfect for that too!

First, a little about the Sweet Summer Halter. The pattern is available in baby sizes from 0-24 months and in girls sizes 2-8.  This dress features contrast straps, elasticized back, gathered skirt, and a hem band.  Sweet Summer Halter is a pattern for an intermediate or confident beginner seamstress. In this pattern Jen will teach you how to piece curved seams to make the contrast straps on the bodice.  As always, you can count on Jen's detailed instructions to walk you through each step of the way.

Sweet Pea wasn't really in a smiling for pictures mood....
But, she is rocking the sunglasses!
Sweet Pea is wearing a size 2/3 Sweet Summer Halter.  The girls version of this pattern has combined sizes because the halter strap makes this dress very adjustable.  The dress is falling just below Sweet Pea's knees right now and will continue to fit for several more inches by loosening the halter strap.  Of course it is easy to adjust the length of the skirt portion of this pattern too.  Want a summer maxi? No problem.  Simply add your desired amount of length.  Looking for a tunic?  That's easy too, just shorten the skirt portion!  

Now, how about making that patchwork skirt?  I've wanted to do this forever and was gifted this sweet collection of charm squares.  They are so summery I knew now was the time to use them.

Making a patchwork skirt is really quite easy.  We are going to begin by making our charm squares into a single fabric.  Look at the cutting chart (or measure your pattern piece) to determine how large a piece of fabric you need to make.  Make sure you account both the front and back pieces.  Charm squares are 5" square.  We are going to join them with a 1/4" seam allowance so each square will be 4 1/2" finished. To determine the number of squares you need divide the width by 4.5; this is the number of square across. Then also divide the length by 4.5 to determine the number of squares down you need.    For example, if your pattern has a skirt that measures 27" wide by 13" long, you need six squares across (27 / 4.5 = 6) and 3 squares down (13 / 4.5 = 2.88). Round up to the nearest whole number as I did for the number of squares down. Remember if you are making a gathered skirt, a little extra fullness will not matter. Now lay out your squares in an arrangement that you like.  You will notice that I offset my squares so that there are no seams to match up when sewing together, this will make your job a lot easier! You can see below, I need to add one more square to the left side of my middle row still.

Here I try out my bodice and straps

Now I'm visualizing the hem band
Once I had an arrangement I liked, I repeated it to account for the back.  Next, sew your rows together, remember we are using a 1/4" seam allowance. I serged mine, but charm squares are cut with a pinked edge, so finishing the seam is not necessary.  I labeled each row so I would keep then in the right order.  Here you can see that I have each row twice as long as above.

After sewing your rows, press all the seam allowances to one side. Now you are ready to sew your rows together.  Match each block seam to the center of the block below it and pin. Sew (again I serged) and press the seam allowances down.

The final step is to trim the extra half a block on each end of the middle row.

You now have your finished 'fabric' for your skirt.  If your skirt is a rectangle measure your patchwork fabric and trim as needed for the correct size.  You can also use your patchwork fabric for other shaped pattern pieces. Simply place your pattern piece on the fabric and cut as you normally would.

Because I included front and back measurements in my patchwork fabric I only needed to sew a single side seam to complete my skirt. If you are adding a hem band as on the Sweet Summer Halter, I suggest waiting to cut it until you have completed your patchwork. Measure your skirt before cutting the hem band to make sure your hem band the right width.  Now simply finish your dress as you would with any pattern!

 We went to the park on this beautiful, spring day and Sweet Pea had a great time playing in her Patchwork Sweet Summer Halter.

Here's your Sweet Summer Halter Details:

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Year of Dresses: Easy Peasy Peasant

A Year of Dresses would not be complete with out another look at the Easy Peasy Peasant Pattern.  Perhaps I'm biased, but it is the cutest, easiest, most versatile, peasant dress out there. If Sweet Pea didn't already have 52 dresses in her closet (only a slight exaggeration...), I'd be whipping up a bunch of these for careless summer days.  I'll likely make her a couple more even though she doesn't need them!

The Easy Peasy Peasant pattern is available in both baby and girls sizes.  You can purchase them separately, Baby sizes from 0-24 months and girls sizes from 2-10 or purchase all ten sizes bundled together at a discounted rate.  With long, 3/4, short, and flutter sleeve options you will grab this pattern all year long!  Add the hem ruffle, I personally love it, or choose a plain hem for an even quicker sewing project. With start to finish time coming in around an hour, this dress is great for last minute gifts, tomorrow's sports game, and stock in your booth.

Here's a quick peek at the four sleeve and two hem options.  Today Sweet Pea is wearing short puff sleeves with a ruffle.

You can also choose to omit the elastic from the sleeves for an 'angel' sleeve look. This also shows a plain hem.

Flutter sleeves with a ruffle.  So perfect for summer!

I love the look of 3/4 sleeves, this one also shown with a ruffle.

Dress by tester from Daker Girls Designs.
`And of course long sleeves with no ruffle.   A perfect look with leggings and boots for winter!

The perfect a-line shape really makes this dress stand out.  This is not a boxy peasant, but has been carefully drafted to have a slimmer upper body and lovely, stand out, a-line hem.  It looks so sweet on!  Embellishment options are endless on this dress.  I added ribbon and lace to the ruffle seam on this dress for the perfect finish.

Other great options include a bow as shown above, see how to make it in this post; try a double layer flower from Jen's free tutorial, or perhaps a couple cute gathered pockets for storing treasures! 

While you're sewing for spring and summer be sure to grab your Sterling Shorties and Leggings pattern too. This is another pattern that I grab constantly.  Today Sweet Pea is wearing Shorties hemmed, instead of adding the ruffle, and they are perfect for little girl modesty! I add them under just about all her dresses and skirts then don't worry about playing at the playground.  I actually need to whip up several new pairs now that our weather is nice.  This pair is from last year and while they still fit just fine, the length is 12-18 months and I'd like them a wee bit longer.  If you remember from a few weeks back, Sweet Pea's waist is still 12-18 months but she needs a 2T length on her legs. Of course the one time I would like a picture of her shorts she was being quite ladylike!

Here's your quick pattern rundown for this week.

  • Easy Peasy Peasant Dress pattern for sizes 0-3 months through girls 9/10
  • Four sleeve options
  • Ruffled or plain hem
  • Perfect fit and a-line shape
  • Beginner level pattern
  • Quick project. Make it during nap or after dinner

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Year of Dresses: The Daydreamer Dress

The countdown is on, only three more weeks of a year of dresses after today!  This week I decided to go back to a favorite pattern and fell in love with it all over again.  Amazingly, though I have made three Daydreamer Dresses before this one, Sweet Pea has never had one in her own closet.  And let me tell  you, I can see this being worn all spring and summer, any day, everyday, for any reason, or no reason at all.

The Daydreamer Dress pattern includes 7 sizes from 2T through 9/10.  It is a beginner level sewing patter, though you'll want to keep making it even when you've reached the advanced sewing level!  If you've made a Easy Peasy Peasant or Potato Chip Skirt, you are ready to sew the Daydreamer Dress.  The elastic neck casing means there are no button closures required for this dress.  If you can gather, you can make this dress.  The bodice is unlined making it cool and comfortable for summer, but Jen's creative design still allows for an enclosed waist seam on the front of the dress for a perfectly polished inside.

The Daydreamer dress sews up quickly.  If you're still looking for an Easter dress, the Daydreamer has you covered!  For an even quicker finished product I used the optional rolled hem finish on both the neck and hem ruffles.  With no shoulder seams, no lining, no buttons and no plackets, you can quickly turn this one out and have a showstopping dress!

Wear it to church, wear it to play, wear it to parties, wear it every day.... With that I leave you with Sweet Pea's bubble blowing daydreams.

Here's your quick Daydreamer Dress Pattern rundown:

  • Sizes 2 - 9/10
  • Beginner/advanced beginner sewing level
  • No closure necessary
  • Quick sewing pattern

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Year of Dresses: The Coral Dress

A Year of Dresses is winding down with just one more month of posts left!  It's hard to believe almost a whole year has passed.  I'm pretty positive I've touched on every Tie Dye Diva dress or skirt pattern at least once (someone please correct me if I've missed one!), and will be spending the next few weeks revisiting a few favorites for spring and summer.

This week is The Coral Dress.  I love this dress and I feel it is often overlooked, so my goal today is to make you notice! The Coral Top and Dress was the first pattern in the Diva Collection and really kicked it off in style. The pattern includes both dress and top length as well as strap, flutter or cap sleeve options.  There is also a sweet optional apron that is the perfect place for special trims.  In true Diva Collection style, this pattern includes ten sizes from 6-12 months through girls 9/10.  Recommended sewing level is advanced beginner.  This pattern really is quite simple and goes together quickly, yet delivers a dress that is full of fun and flair.  This is also the perfect dress if you are out of paper or printer ink!  No pattern pieces are necessary, simply follow the cutting chart for each tier.

For reference, I made a size 3 dress with cap sleeves and no apron for Sweet Pea (you can see the strap version in this post).  While her chest is still barely a size 2 on the Tie Dye Diva size chart, she is nearly 38" tall, placing her squarely in the 3 size range for height.  I typically mix sizes for Sweet Pea, but the shirred bodice is very forgiving and I knew that the size 3 bodice would fit just fine.

Shirring is required for this pattern, but, have no fears! There is a full shirring tutorial included in the pattern.  If you can sew a straight (or nearly so) line, then you can shirr following Jen's wonderful tutorial.  I like to shirr in a continuous line.  To do this I stitch in the ditch down the side seam to get down to the start of the next row.  I do back-tack at the beginning of each row in case of the unfortunate event of breaking a thread.

I really love the poofy little cap sleeves!
I added some sweet cotton lace trim to the skirt at the seam line instead of topsitiching.  I love the extra touch it adds!  I stitched both trims on with simple white thread after sewing the and pressing the seams.

The combination of shirred bodice and below the knee length guarantee that this dress will fit for a long time to come, which of course makes this mama happy.  Sweet Pea will be happy too because she specifically requested this "bunny fabric."  This collection of fabric, Spring Hare by Lewis and Irene, has been quite popular this spring, as you may have noticed.  Many of the fabrics are out of stock everywhere, but a few prints are still available, including the gray damask I used, from One Red Blossom.


The tiers, of course, make this dress beautifully twirly! Another bit hit with Sweet Pea.  On a more practical note, the tiers make this dress an excellent use of large scraps or small cuts of fabric, making it a big hit for the seamstresses!

 Here's your quick pattern rundown.

  • The Coral Dress and Top includes sizes 6-12 months through girls 9/10
  • Advanced beginner sewing level
  • Three sleeve options: strap, flutter, or cap
  • Two lengths: top or dress
  • Shirred bodice and tiered skirt
  • No serger required
  • No pattern pieces to print

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Year of Dresses: The Chocolate Chip Skirt for Women

 You asked for it, you waited and anticipated, and now it is here!  How could this week's A Year of Dresses feature anything but the brand new Tie Dye Diva pattern, and a first for women, The Chocolate Chip Skirt?  It all started with the Potato Chip Skirt for girls, which took the PDF pattern world by storm. This sweet and simple A-line skirt was irresistible and such a classic design, of course we mamas wanted it for ourselves too!

The Chocolate Chip Skirt for women includes sizes XS - XXXL fitting hips from 34" to 50".  It features a simple pull on style with flat front and gently gathered elastic back.  The gentle a-line shape is neither too much or to little and flatters bodies of all shapes and sizes.  Finally, don't forget about the pockets, a perfect place for adding piping and a splash of color.  The Chocolate Chip pattern includes all the same options as the girl's Potato Chip pattern.  Make it unlined, lined or reversible.  The pattern will guide you to which option is best for your fabric.

This simple sew, no gathering or buttonholes, is a quick project, perfect for naptime or evenings.  I'd estimate it can be completed under two hours (and gets quicker the more you make, you'll want more than one!). With simple fitting, choose your size based on hip measurements and adjust the elastic as necessary for your waist, this is a great first 'self-sewing' project. The Chocolate Chip pattern is designed to be an at knee length, and full instructions are included for adjusting the length as needed.

This skirt is shortened just a bit to be above the knee
This is my all time favorite skirt style.  It works for literally every occasion.  It is comfortable enough for every day wear with a tee and flats. But with heals and accessories it dresses right up for special occasions.  It is both comfortable and modest for wearing to the office, yet sassy enough for a night on the town too!

Yes, a different skirt.  I've made 3 already!
And, of course, coordinating skirts for all the girls in your family couldn't be more fun!  I couldn't resist making just one matching skirt for Sweet Pea (who has about 7 Potato Chips in her closet!)

While she loves her skirt like Mommy's,
she wasn't in the best mood for pictures!

So, there's your Chocolate Chip in a nutshell!  We are so excited about this pattern and can't wait to see what everyone makes.  Make sure you join us in the Tie Dye Diva Facebook group where there are tons of ladies ready to offer help and encouragement and be sure to post your pictures there too!

There has been lots of excitement over the Potato Chip skirt since it's release in January.  Did you see, just yesterday, the Potato Chip Skirt pattern won Skirt Fixation’s Best New Pattern award! So exciting!

We're thrilled with the buzz over the Chips! Here’s a sampling.

(Note that some of the older posts direct to the now-expired Bundle Up offer, but you can of course grab your Chips directly from Tie Dye Diva.)

And of course, you saw our Year of Dresses post and Buttonhole Elastic tutorial featuring the Potato Chip.

Here's your quick rundown for both The Chocolate Chip and Potato Chip patterns:

  • Chocolate Chip Pattern for Women in sizes XS - XXXL
  • Potato Chip Pattern for Girls in sizes 12 months through girls 13/14
  • Don't for get about Dolly Chip too!
  • Beginner/Advanced beginner sewing level
  • Flat front, elastic back style
  • Inset pockets, perfect for piping (piping tutorial included!)
  • Super quick sewing project