cloth diapering · kids clothing · sewing

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

When Tessuti announced their most recent competition, the Cut Out Lace Sewing Competition, I looked at the fabric and knew that I would never sew it for myself.  I don’t really wear lace, as much as I love it on other people.  But I had a very strong suspicion that Clare would like a lace dress.  There were three colour ways on offer – black, red and ivory.  Clare chose ivory, and I ordered two panels. When it arrived and I opened the parcel all that I could think was “tablecloth”.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

Now that I’ve said that, it’s all that you can see too, isn’t it! I had a dilemma – how was I going to best use this fabric in a way that it wouldn’t look like a tablecloth? I ran a few pattern options past Clare, and a few lining options, and in the end we decided to base her dress on view B of Simplicity 8086 with a contrasting taffeta lining.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

So, the first challenge. This is a women’s pattern. Clare measured a 4 bust and an 8 waist. I didn’t care about the hip measurement as I knew it was a full skirt. I also checked front and back waist lengths, and shoulder width, and knew that I had some adjustments to make.  I really would have made life easier for myself if I’d started with a girl’s pattern.  I needed to focus on the bodice pieces.  Firstly I graded between sizes where needed then did a SBA to remove the copious bust shaping.  Then I cut a muslin from an old sheet and tried it on.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

It was SO worth sewing the muslin. As you know, I’m not usually a muslin maker, but there are times when I can really see the value.  I made some more alterations, sewed them, tried it on Clare again, then unpicked it completely and used it as the pattern to cut out the lace. Having sewn the muslin also meant that I had all the pattern pieces needed for the bodice, which made working out the lace placement more straightforward. Hooray!

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

See those instructions? They were basically gobbledygook, so I discarded them completely. I cut out the bodice overlay entirely from the lace. For the under bodice I cut the bodice waistband and lower back pieces from the lace and underlined them with taffeta. I cut the upper front and back bodice from the taffeta as well, then cut all the same pieces again to sew a full bodice lining. The taffeta is a copper colour, with red threads in one direction and green in the other. It has enough depth that the patterns on the lace really stand out, yet it blends fairly well with Clare’s skin tone beneath the looser overlay.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

I sewed the overlay, the under bodice, and the lining separately. Then the fun began. I needed to join these pieces in a way that would fully enclose all the seam allowances. There was a lot of fiddling, a lot of pinning, and a lot of working in small spaces involved. I started by putting the overlay in place on top of the under bodice, then sewing the lining to it right sides together around the neckline. This seemed to work okay. Then I used the burrito method to sew one armhole, then the other. The overlay is joined at the neckline and armholes, but hangs free elsewhere. Once I’d done that, I needed to finish the edges of the upper back under bodice. Once again there was a fair bit of pinning and turning inside out. I’d left the waistline and centre back seams open so that I could manipulate the rest of the bodice. By taking things slow and steady, and thinking logically, I was able to complete the bodice other than the centre back seam. I knew that I wanted to leave it for the eventual insertion of an invisible zip.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

The skirt width is the full length of two panels of the lace.  I cut it as a long rectangle, without any shaping. I underlined it with the taffeta, hoping that the taffeta would add fullness to the pleats and prevent any show through of the seam allowance at the centre back skirt seam. This worked well. Pleat placement was a matter of trial and error. I spent some time manipulating the skirt fabric, measuring, pleating, pinning, unpinning, re-measuring, pinning, checking, and so on, until we had the pleats at a depth and distribution that was pleasing to the eye. The mirroring of the lace was really important here as well – some pleat depths looked better than others. Eventually the pleats were stitched in place, then the skirt attached to the bodice and the seam allowance edges overlocked together. There is quite a bit of bulk in that seam and we wanted it to sit as flat as possible from the outside of the dress.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

After all of that it was a relatively simple matter of inserting an invisible zip at the centre back seam. The bulk at the waist seam made this a slightly delicate process, but once again patience was my friend. I sewed a button loop from embroidery thread at the centre back neckline, and covered a button with a flower from the lace, with taffeta underneath.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

The last step was to sew the hem by simply turning the edge of the lace under and stitching it by machine. This just made it a little more substantial and helped with the skirt fullness.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

This was one of those special sewing occasions where I turned the finished dress around the right way, gave it a shake, and felt a huge smile spread over my face. I just loved it! Then I called Clare – and she had entirely the same reaction. And once she tried it on? Just beautiful. I know that I am biased – she’s my daughter, after all – but I think that this dress is absolutely perfect for her.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

We had an absolute ball doing a photo shoot down at the local creek. We managed to get some lovely photos in the natural environment, as well as some at the industrial estate nearby.  That green wall is an auto body repairers, and the grey wall belongs to a funeral director!

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

So now I’ll subject you all to yet more of the photos that I took – because I found it incredibly difficult to narrow down which ones to enter in the competition. There is a week or so left before the competition closes, and there are already a number of stunning entries. I don’t expect to win the competition, but as far as Clare and I are concerned, this dress already takes first prize.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

You can follow the entries for the competition on Tessuti’s Pinterest board here.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Groove dress – as dress!

It amuses me that I sewed this pattern as a top twice before I got around to sewing it as an actual dress.

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

This is the Madeit Patterns Groove dress for teens, sewn in the teen size Small. We chose to sew the long sleeved version with the scoop neck. However, Clare finds the scoop neck is actually a bit wider than she would prefer. She doesn’t like necklines high at the front, so she is happy with the depth, but because she has narrow shoulders the neckline is wider than she’s prefer.

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is a printed ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics (Brunswick store). I used soft double knit from stash to bind the neckline. As you can imagine, this was a super fast garment to construct. The overlocker was used for most of it, with hems secured with a twin needle on the machine.

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

This style does have marvellous swish. The high-low hemline is rather pronounced, so you do need to consider what the reverse side of your fabric looks like if you are sewing that version. You also need to keep your hems nice and neat, because they will be visible.

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

This pattern comes free with either the Women’s or the Child’s size. I bought the Women’s, so there will be one of these ahead for me as well. The pattern has a number of neckline, sleeve length and hemline options, and hopefully it will be a workhorse pattern for me as well as for the girls.

Groove dress in ponte from Super Cheap Fabrics

Worn with her Lily Knit blazer and Shredded Scarf.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Nantucket One-Piece swimsuit

One pair of bathers apparently wasn’t enough for our FNQ holiday – Clare needed a one-piece as well!

Nantucket Swimsuit by Peekaboo Patterns in Rathdowne Fabrics print

Okay, I have a confession – Clare wasn’t the one pushing the “I need more bathers” barrow – it was me wanting to sew more of the lovely swimwear fabric that was in my stash! This fabric came from Rathdowne Fabrics. Those butterflies and flowers are so pretty! This was such a pretty fabric that it called for a fairly simple pattern. And I found the Peekaboo Patterns Nantucket One-Piece swimsuit pattern in my stash. I think I’d originally bought it as part of a pattern bundle.

Nantucket Swimsuit by Peekaboo Patterns in Rathdowne Fabrics print

Of course, the back is the highlight of these bathers. Such a lovely low scoop, highlighted with cross-over straps. The description from the website is as follows:  Get ready for a trip to the seashore with the Nantucket One-Piece Swimsuit! The Nantucket features a gathered front neckline and cross-back straps finished in a darling bow. With excellent bum coverage your little one will be comfortable playing all day long in a suit that’s sure to please. Check the Ultimate Swimsuit Fabric Shopping Guide for help finding the perfect fabric for your project :) Tutorial includes tips for sewing on swimsuit fabric and achieving a professional finish. No serger required. Includes instructions for an optional lining.  Pattern comes with a full tutorial and color photos in an easy to print PDF. Pattern pieces are computer generated and color coded for easy cutting. 

Nantucket Swimsuit by Peekaboo Patterns in Rathdowne Fabrics print

This pattern ranges in size from 3 months to size 12.  I used a combination of sizes 10 and 12 for Clare, grading up to the 12 for her hips.  I fully lined the bathers, then zig-zagged the edges together and treating them as one.  The edging was all done with fold-over elastic, so I had to depart from the instructions a little bit there. These were faster to sew than I had anticipated, and once again all the sewing was done on the sewing machine. That zig-zag stitch really earned its place!

Nantucket Swimsuit by Peekaboo Patterns in Rathdowne Fabrics print

If anything, the upper chest is a little wide and bags a fraction. The pattern has a casing here, with the ties threaded through it, which would gather it in a little. I could have probably pulled the elastic tighter when applying it to the upper front, which would have had the same effect. However, we’re both happy with these bathers overall.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Mountain Ash Designs two-piece

Before we went to Cairns Clare decided that she needed new bathers.  She wanted a two-piece, but one that would be practical.  We searched the stash, then searched online.  We found the Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates #1 pattern.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

The pattern description from the website is as follows: Make your own tankinis and bikinis using this pdf sewing pattern with options for a crop top or singlet top and briefs for swimming. Garments are designed to be made from stretch fabric and can be sewn using an overlocker/ serger or a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. Pattern will fit girls in sizes 2-14 years.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

I have already forgotten what sizes we sewed for Clare, but we pretty much looked at the sizing chart and went by that. It was possibly a 12 for the pants and a 10 for the crop top. The fabric is a swimwear nylon/lycra remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics, and the lining probably came from there as well. I fully lined both the bottoms and the top by cutting the pattern pieces from the lining as well then laying the two together after sewing side seams. Edges were finished with neon orange fold over elastic that was in my stash.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

The straps were criss-crossed at the back, tried on and pinned in place before sewing to ensure that they were the right length. As I had just enough leftover fabric, I also made another wrap bikini top to coordinate.  Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of that one yet! It’s based on the Madalynne Sierra bra, modified to work in swimwear lycra.

Mountain Ash Designs Swimwear Separates in nylon/lycra from Rathdowne Fabrics

Bathers are surprisingly satisfying to sew.  I think that these were done entirely on the sewing machine, with a straight stitch to join the side seams and a zig-zag stitch to attach the fold over elastic.  You get better at how much tension to put on the elastic the more that you do it.  You can’t see it clearly in the photos, but this fun fabric has a glittery overprint.  There are terrific bathers fabrics around, especially at shops like Rathdowne Fabrics.  I find that no matter what I do, bathers really only last a year, so I’m glad that I enjoy sewing them!  I’m amassing a rather nice stash of women’s bathers patterns to sew as Clare and Stella get older.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

yet another circle skirt

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

It’s a skirt. It’s a circle. It has an elastic waist. And the hem was left raw.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

The fabric is a textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics, and the waistband wide black elastic from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I cut the elastic to her waist measurement, and sewed the ends into a circle. The skirt was “drafted” using one of the online circle skirt calculators that is available online, using Clare’s waist measurement and the desired length. It is a full circle, and fitted onto the fabric without the need for any seams – so I essentially cut out a donut shape.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

And yes, it twirls! Even thirteen year old girls like a twirl.

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

I simply zig-zagged the skirt to the elastic waistband after quarter marking both. So simple. As it turns out, Clare is wearing it with the waistband turned over once to shorten it a little. Just like she does with the winter school uniform skirt….

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

So, if you’re looking for some tween/teen sewing for a girl that likes skirts, don’t forget the simple circle skirt, especially in a knit with an elastic waistband. Just choose a fabric that they like, and it will be a winner!

Clare's circle skirt in textured knit from Rathdowne Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Vintage Simplicity 6494 and another Groove top

More sewing for the thirteen year old!  I find that vintage patterns can work well for Clare. The girls patterns have a decent size range – often up to a 16 – and sometimes you can find “Juniors” patterns that were designed especially for changing bodies.  However, this skirt is a straightforward Girls size 10.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I have mentioned before that after years and years of wearing skirts and pants down low on her hips, Clare now wants to wear things at her natural waist. This means that she is re-examining her tops as well in order to find things that work better with her bottoms. She rather liked the Groove dress as top that I had already made, so I sewed her another.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

This time I cut the top slightly longer – only an inch or so. The striped fabric is from Clear It and has two sides, one with wide stripes and one with narrower. We decided to use the narrower stripe as the “right side” for the sleeves and the neckband.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

This time I did sew a proper neckband, cutting a strip to length, folding it in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, then sewing it to the right side of the neckline with the overlocker. I stitched it down from the right side with a twin needle to secure it. Hems were also twin needled.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I did go to the effort of matching the stripes through the sides of the body, so need to include a photo to show off my success. I didn’t worry too much about stripe matching with the narrow stripes of the sleeves, although they are pretty good too.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

But really, the “hero” garment of this blog post has to be the skirt. The pattern is copyright 1975.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I sewed view 1 in size 10, but found that I had to take it in quite a bit through the waist after Clare tried it on. Otherwise it is all sewn as per the pattern. There were lots of great tips and tricks throughout.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

That elastic is sewn inside the back waistband pieces, on the half of the waistband that will be against the body when the skirt is complete. It provides support and a bit of additional shaping and security. Yet from the outside it looks like a flat waistband. Very nice.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I decided – in conjunction with Clare – to use an exposed zip. There are a few different ways of doing these, depending on the finish that you want. I decided to simply stitch it to the outside of the skirt, with the ends of the zipper tape folded into a little “V” at the bottom. I sewed both close to the zipper teeth and again near the edge of the zipper tape.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I also love the little curved pockets. You can just see where I have taken in the skirt at the side waist seams in this photo, as there is now a seam in the waistband. Originally it was all one piece. If only Clare had been available to try it on at every step of the sewing process rather than me having to alter after the fact! That is one of the challenges when sewing without your model available (I think she was at school).

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I did two parallel rows of topstitching around the pockets and around the skirt hem. I used the triple stitch on my machine for these – I find that it often works better than using topstitching or upholstery thread, and my sewing machine is happier doing it too.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

I am ridiculously pleased with this little skirt – with the entire outfit, actually.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

Even the scarf is one that I crocheted – it appears to have made a permanent move from my wardrobe into Clare’s.

Vintage Simplicity 6494 copyright 1975 skirt with Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a top

If you are sewing for a tween, don’t overlook vintage patterns. They might provide you with exactly what you are looking for!

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Groove dress as top

I don’t know why, but I don’t often think to do the obvious.  For example, shorten a dress into a top – or conversely, to lengthen a top into a dress.  I have no idea why it doesn’t occur to me more often.  Fortunately, a month or so ago it did.  Clare has been asking for some more tops that are casual but not too casual (yes, she’s a 13 year old) that would look good with higher waisted jeans or skirts.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

This is the Madeit Patterns Groove Dress for teens, shortened to a top.  We kept the high-low hemline, and just measured on Clare where we wanted the top to finish at the front.  The body of the top is scuba from Spotlight, so it has loads of body and retains the flare of the pattern despite the shorter length.  The neck binding and sleeves are in a much softer and stretchier double knit that was somewhere in my stash.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

You can see the curve of the hemline well when I make her twirl!

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

I sewed the smallest of the teen sizes. This pattern actually comes in adult and child sizes as well, and the teen pattern was free if you bought the adult or child sizes. So expect to see a Lara-sized Groove dress at some stage too. There are a number of style options included. From their website: The Groove Dress is an utterly covetable, swing dress made using knit fabric, with short or long sleeves and a high low or straight hemline. And as if that wasn’t enough, we went crazy to offer you five, yes five different neck options. Round, scoop, slash, cowl or hooded, whatever takes your fancy. The combinations are endless (well nearly, you do the maths).

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

The neckline is bound rather than banded. I sewed a strip of fabric to the right side with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it over the seam allowance to the wrong side, completely enclosing the seam allowance, then topstitched it a couple of mm inside the seamline to secure. Most other construction was on the overlocker, with the a machine zig-zag used to secure hems.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top

Clare’s new high-waisted jeans came from Dejour Jeans in Brunswick. They make all their jeans here in Melbourne and customisation to fit you is included in the price, while you wait (or while you go and have coffee at a nearby cafe). We were thrilled to be able to buy jeans with hip and bum shaping in a small enough size to fit Clare – they took the waist in a little, altered the front rise, shortened the jeans, and narrowed the lower leg. She is rapt, and we’ll definitely be buying jeans there in the future! I love the concept that they automatically alter their jeans to fit the person, rather than the person being expected to just fit into the jeans. And they have all the equipment set up – it was great to watch the alterations people zooming through all the garment changes.  Word has got around about Dejour Jeans in recent years and they are often super busy with queues of people and sometimes shop closures due to crowds!  Apparently Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the quietest days.  Allow plenty of time if you are visiting.

Made It Patterns Groove dress shortened to a high-low top