Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bubble-skirted Dress Part 2 - "Hard"-Work

Welcome to Part 2 of the bubble-skirted dress tutorial! This one is going to be just as loaded with pictures as Part 1...Or maybe even more pictures. If you need any clarification on anything, feel free to comment or email me!

So, in Part 1, we got the shirt prepared, and the skirt material ready...now it's time to really start sewing!

Put a pin in all four "corners" of the fabric on each end.  Sorry, I didn't take a picture of this step. Basically, you hold the back seam in one hand, and lay the fabric smooth to find the exact middle of the front. You put a pin there. Then you line up the front pin with the back seam to find the two exact sides. Put a pin in each side. Do this to the top and bottom of both pieces of fabric.
Put your machine onto the longest straight stitch setting, and the tension knob to the highest number to gather. Stitch as close to the edge of what will be the bottom edge of the top skirt as you can (in this case the owl fabric). The closer to the edge you are the easier it is to hide the stitching in the seam if you don't end up being able to pull all the stitching out later. (There will be more clarification later!)

The owl fabric I used has a definite "up" and "down". I'm sewing along the very bottom edge.
Make sure to leave a nice sized tail of thread when you remove the fabric from the machine (side note - if I know the gathering seam isn't going to be seen I like to use a contrasting thread color - makes it easier to see when gathering!). After it is gathered, line up the pins (that you kept in while sewing!!) of the top fabric, with those of the under fabric. Make sure you have the right sides of the fabric together. Pin the two pieces together at the four "corners" and pull the strings to gather the fabric more if needed.

Match up the pins.
See the non-gathered area? That's why you leave the strings - so you can pull them and gather it up more as needed!
The top skirt fabric is all gathered and the bottom skirt fabric is flat.
Sew the top and under fabrics together. I used my (super fantastic) serger to sew the two layers together, but you can do a straight stitch on the inside, and a zig-zag stitch closer to the edge.

After they are sewn together, when you pull the layers apart from each other it would look like you were making a tiered skirt.

Notice that the owls look upside down. The top of the brown is at the top of the picture, while the top of the owls is at the bottom of the picture since the brown goes inside the owls. I hope that made sense!
A close up. The brown is the under skirt and is still nice and flat, while the owls is the top layer and is all gathered.
Do a top stitch on the under skirt to hold the seam down. This step is optional, but I think it makes the skirt lay a little more nicely once the whole thing is done.

The next step can be done a couple different ways. For either way, you need to make sure you still have the four corners pinned on both the top and under skirt layers.

For the first option of how to do this step: Gather the top of the top skirt the same way that you did the bottom of the top skirt. Then pin it to the bottom layer at the four corners, tighten up the gathering until there is no slack between the two, and pin the layers together, keeping the four corner pins in and adding more pins to it to keep the gathered layer and bottom layer together. Stitch the two layers together, keeping the four corner pins in. After the two layers are stitched together, do a gathering stitch to make both layers gather up. (Still keeping the four corner pins in.)

For the second option of how to do this step (and the option that I went with): Put a pin in each of the mid points between the pins marking the four corners in both layers. Pin the two layers together matching up all of the pins together - There should now be 8 pins holding your two pieces of fabric together. Put the fabric in the machine with the gathering stitch on, and scrunch the top layer fabric in the space between the needle placement and the next pin as you feed it through the machine. Both of the layers will be gathered at the same time this way. And if you have some experience with gathering, and feeding hand-scrunched fabric in the machine, this way seems to take a bit less time.

See how the owl fabric looks much more gathered up than the brown? It's because it is. There was more owl fabric than brown fabric used.
Mark the mid points of the front and back of the shirt with pins. Then mark the points in between those points. Line up the skirt and shirt to see how cute it will be....and to check the gathering spacing.

Turn the skirt inside out and pin the skirt and the shirt together. Make sure you pin the middle back of the shirt to the middle back of the skirt, and middle front of the shirt to the middle front of the skirt. It's surprising how many times I've pinned bodice and skirt pieces together wrong. Or maybe not so surprising since I have two kids and a husband, and a dog and a cat, that all like to have my attention when I'm trying to sew!

Notice that you can see the owl fabric coming out from under the brown? That's because the brown was made to 7 inches, while the owl was 8 inches - remember?
Sew the skirt and t-shirt sandwich together. Again, I used my (beloved) serger, but if you don't have one, sew a straight stretch stitch about 1/2 inch in from the edge, then a zig-zag closer to the edge (this is to lock in the potentially scraggly edges of the fabric). If you do a zig-zag stitch you might want to go around a couple of times, not just once. This would be to ensure that all layers are as secure as possible.

Turn the dress right side out and take out all of the gathering stitches if you can see them. (This is why I like to do them in a contrasting color.)

Do a top stitch to hold down the skirt and t-shirt sandwich seam to the t-shirt using a straight stretch stitch.

If you decided to do all of the sewing before the glittery puffy paint seal, then do the glittery puffy paint outlining now!

Add the pretty bow to wherever you want (I played around with putting it in several different places. Potential placement options: top corner above the owl next to "Joy", the opposite side from where it is in the picture, directly below the owl, along the neckline. I had SUCH a hard time deciding!!)..and try on your cutie patootie!

Baby girl wearing her new dress and playing with the hologram costume-fabric cut offs. It's amazing how much she has grown up in just a year!
 I just love the way it turned out!! I hope you like yours just as much as I do. I'll be making a few more of these in other non-themed fabrics for year-round wear. But, let's face it - I'll probably have my baby bunny wear this well after Christmas is over because it's so stinkin cute!

Note on sizing:
I would adjust the length of the fabric you cut by 1/2 - 1 inch up (with BOTH pieces of fabric!!) with the higher up in sizes you go, but continue to do about 4x the width of the bottom of the shirt for the width. You can also try the shirt on the child you want to wear the dress and measure from about the hem stitching down to where you want the bottom of the skirt to hit. Then add for seam allowances.

If sizing down in size I would adjust the length of the fabric by about 2 inches, and cut off the entire hemmed area of the shirt and an extra inch (instead of taking out the seam and just cutting off the folded area). Since smaller babies likely aren't walking yet it would probably get caught up when they are crawling around. With the 12 month sizing my little girl got a little tangled in it, but she was also on the verge of walking, so I didn't want to make it any shorter.

You could also fairly easily convert a onsie into one of these. I can make a tutorial on that too if I get enough requests....Or if I have a reason to turn a plain onsie into a cute bubble skirt dress!

Note on timing:
I made this in two nap times + a little extra. I'm not entirely sure how much actual time that was since my daughter didn't take consistently timed naps. But they were typically between 1 and 2.5 hours. Also, since this was the first one ever, it took a little longer. The next one(s) I make will take MUCH less time since I've already figured out how long/wide to cut the fabric, and figured out the best way to do the construction.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment, or email me!!

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