Back-to-school Sewing Class with Rae and Karen

I’m teaching a class at Blue House in Ann Arbor starting September 12 called Handmade Kids’ Back To School Wardrobe with my friend Karen of One Girl Circus (whose book “Sewing for Boys” is coming out VERY VERY SOON!). We thought it would be really cool to do an intensive class over five weeks where we show how to put together a five-piece wardrobe using both of our patterns!

We’re teaching it together so that means we can offer as much one-on-one instruction as possible and it’s going to be really fun because the two of us always have a hoot. So if no one takes this class we are just going to sew together for five weeks and it will still be so much fun. But it would be even more fun if you could join us, right? So sign up now or tell a friend or significant other (this could be an awesome birthday gift or early-Christmas gift!). The contact info is on the image above (click to enlarge).

Rainbow Dress Tutorial

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Well it’s here: The Rainbow Dress Tutorial! I realize my timing is (as usual) a little odd, as it’s now the very end of summer proper and the temperatures here in Michigan are downright cool. But my sister Elli just moved to Texas and assures me that it’s still 100 degrees there, so I’m guessing some of you will still be able to use and enjoy it. Anyway, it’s never too early to start sewing for next summer, right?

In addition to the free tutorial right here in this post, I’ve made a PRINTABLE  version of the tutorial available for a very low price ($2, yay!) for those who might not have the luxury of being able to sew with your laptop next to your machine like I do (trust me, it’s a sickness):

$2 – Printable Version

Finished Size

This tutorial is for a size 2T dress or, if you skip the straps, a size 3-5T skirt that is 18″ long and has a 26″ waist (fully stretched). The finished dress is 18″ tall without straps and 21″ tall with straps.

Materials List

1/2 yard of four coordinating fabrics (it doesn’t have to be a rainbow; think solids! stripes! colorblock!)
elastic thread for shirring (see Step 6 for more information on elastic thread)
1/2″ wide elastic for straps

Do you need a serger?

Nope. The instructions here presume that you have a serger to finish the edges as shown in the pictures, but if you don’t have a serger, you can easily zigzag stitch the raw edges for a similar effect. I’ve also included suggestions throughout this tutorial for sewing this dress without serging OR zig-zagging (is that even a word?)

Read this first please:

The pictures and instructions are offered here for free but you can buy a 2-page printable version for just $2 if you want to support my work. Please don’t repost any of my content without permission. Thanks!

Step 1

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Step 2

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Use a 1/4″ seam to sew the ends together on one side. Then serge the top and bottom edges of each tier. A zig-zag stitch works just fine if you don’t have a serger. If you prefer a more “finished” look, add 1″ to the width of each of the panels when cutting in Step 1, then fold/press under 1/4″ twice along the long edges and sew down instead.

Step 3

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I find it easiest to gather by setting my machine tension to the highest setting and using the longest stitch length possible. Then I just sew one row of stitches 1/2″ from the edge on the right side of the fabric to gather it up. Leave plenty of thread at each end. When you pull on either of the top threads you can adjust the gathers easily.

Line up the tiers with their ends and seams together. The top edge of the second tier should overlap the top tier by 5/8″ (an easy way to do this: flip it over to the back side and move the second tier so that the gathering stitches are JUST hidden by the bottom edge of the top tier). Adjust the gathers evenly by pulling on the ends of the gathering threads, then pin them together.

Step 4

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Sew directly over the gathering stitches, 1/2″ from the top of the second tier.

Step 5

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Now it should look like this:

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Step 6

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Handwind a bobbin loosely with elastic thread* and put it in your machine. This goes faster than you might think because elastic thread is really thick.

*You want my advice? Don’t use Dritz or JoAnn storebrand, the quality seem to be really unpredictable and has resulted in nothing but in poor shirring and tears for me. Try Guterman (available at JoAnn) or order yourself a huge cone of this stuff instead.

OK, so begin shirring across the top tier, beginning 1″ below the top edge. Leave a little bit of extra elastic thread at the end of each row before turning the fabric around and sewing back across the tier. The rows should be 1/4″ – 1/2″ apart. Keep in mind that you should ALWAYS test this on a scrap of fabric before attempting on your dress, and that the closer together your rows, the more tightly your fabric will gather. I have mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with shirring; in my experience it definitely takes some trial and error to get the tightness you want, so take the time to experiment with this a little bit so you don’t get frustrated!

Steam the rows of shirring with your iron after you are finished; the elastic should shrink up even more:

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Step 7:

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Pin the remaining side edges together, matching up each tier carefully. Then sew together with a 1/4″ seam.

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I also serged this seam to prevent fraying, but you could also zigzag stitch or do a french seam here if you don’t have a serger.

Step 8:

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Now it should look something like this:

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If you are making a skirt, congratulations, you’re finished!  Or continue on to add straps…

Step 9:

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Step 10:

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You’ll need about 8″ of 1/2″ wide elastic to thread through the casing here.

Note: If you don’t like the serged/zigzagged look, cut your strap rectangles 1″ wider, then fold the raw edges opposite the fold under (together) 1/4″ twice and sew down for a more finished look. You could also fold the raw edges under towards each other and sew down. Either way works.

Step 11:

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You’ll want to pin the straps in place with safety pins and try it on a child before sewing these down; I found that 8″ was a little too long so I pulled a little more elastic through and then sewed the straps down. Fold under the raw edges on the ends before sewing them to the dress.

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Voila! Finished dress!!! Add your photos to the Rae Made Me Do It! Photo pool so we can all enjoy them.

Did you like this tutorial? Wouldn’t it be nice to print it out or just say “thanks Rae for all your work on this”? Guess what? You can purchase a 2-page printable PDF version of the tutorial for just $2. Thanks everyone for supporting my work!!!

Rainbow Dress Tutorial Printable – $2

Buy Now

Please read these instructions if you’ve never purchased an instant download PDF from me before.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this everyone!

Old lady tops, hot or not?

I’m pretty sure my grandma wore variations of each of these tops with white polyester pants back in the eighties. Anthro seems to be pushing the look pretty hard, it’s just that I have yet to see something like this actually walking down the street on a real person. Is this back? If it is, I’m thinking it might look really nice in one of these two fabrics of mine:

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What say ye?

End of summer

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The end of the summer has been really busy for us. My birthday was last friday…34 now, YIKES.  The kids are both in preschool three days a week starting today. We had a vacation week last week; part of it was spent as a family with my inlaws on the other side of the state which is always fun and relaxing (with plenty of pool time) and then for a couple of days it was just Mr Rae and me on the town in Chicago (to see some of the things I bought whilst birthday shopping, check out my fall wardrobe board on Pinterest). We got home just in time for a fantastic Crafter’s Meetup on Wednesday (forgot to take pictures, OOPS) and then for my birthday we all went out to the Jolly Pumpkin for dinner and then got ice cream at Washtenaw Dairy. Yum!

Anyway. That’s what I’ve been up to, just in case you were wondering.

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Just had to show you: Rainbow Dress

Am so geeked about how this turned out. Was just a bunch of rectangles and a concept in my head, now it’s the cutest thing in her closet.

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um not sure what I did to deserve this look?

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I got the Yuwa Grids over at Charmstitch (you can get the Yuwas in a 1/2 yard pack or individually). The weight of this cotton is nice and light and I love the modern gingham. Maybe a tutorial to come?

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This is the absolute best way she’s ever worn it. And yes, that IS a Peekaboo Bonnet on her head. Backwards.

SE MI Crafter’s Meetup Wednesday August 24

We’re having another (free) Crafter’s Meetup in Ann Arbor Michigan and would love for you to join us! The idea is that we supply the space, you bring your own project for a few hours of fun crafting with lots of other crafty folks. We’ve found it’s especially nice to be able to have a few toddler-free hours to hang out and work with more space than you (usually) have at home. You can see pictures from past meetups in this post.

Handmade crafters of all types are welcome, we’ll have tables and chairs for machines as well as cutting and ironing spaces as usual. We supply drinks, you bring the snacks and your project and of course your sewing machine if applicable. The brand-new Maker Works of Ann Arbor is hosting this event, and we’re very excited to try out their new CRAFT space!

When: Wednesday, August 24th from 6:30 – 10 PM.

Where: Maker Works Ann Arbor, Michigan (just south of I-94 State St exit)

REGISTER: Please sign up on our SE Michigan Crafters Meetup Eventbrite page if you can come. There’s more information about the event/location on that page too if you just want to have a look.

Invite your friends! It’s free! See you there!

Posted in meetup
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Tutorial: Make Cupcake Flags!

I made these little flags a couple weeks ago as cupcake toppers for Clementine’s 2nd birthday. They were a real hit with the kids and the other day when she found a flag that had been dropped in the lawn and forgotten, she picked it up and said “Happy birthday to me?” Yes, yes.

They’re very simple to make; I used origami paper but any printed stationery or wrapping paper would work too. Super-easy, super-quick! Here’s how:

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A note about the Xyron: Purchasing this gadget was a little silly (as I’ve mentioned above, a glue stick works just fine for this project), but it comes in handy every once in awhile for making stickers or sticky things like labels and so I used it here to present myself with the illusion that I am getting my money’s worth. If you really want one you can find them for about $15 at craft stores with a coupon or when they go on sale. This one makes a sticker that is 2.5″ wide max, but there’s also a smaller one that is even cheaper.

If you’re curious as to how it works, basically you just shove your paper into one side…

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turn the crank, and they come out on the other side as stickers:

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Yum!

Duck Duck BOOTS

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Clementine loves to go barefoot. She also loves her rainboots. It’s a tough call, but I think barefoot wins. But if she can’t go barefoot, she’ll always pick her rain boots, to the point that it occasionally creates a little bit of conflict (Me: “No Clementine, you cannot wear your rain boots in the swimming pool!!” Clementine: “WAAAAAAAH!” Me: “Are you serious girl? You are making me crazy!!!”). When she put the rain boots on with the Charlie dress I made a couple weeks ago it was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. And you know if I had *asked* her to wear them she would have refused, she’s just a little bit sassy like that.

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Who is this crazy person following me with a camera?

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Pattern: Charlie Tunic, adapted as a dress (as shown earlier in this post)
Fabric: Red Letter Day by Lizzy House
Boots: Target? Meijer? Can’t remember.

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PS Lots of good guesses on this Good Folks WIP, by the way. And a few of you guessed right! Nice. All will be revealed soon!

Guess what this is going to turn into

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Hint: Not a quilt.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I was stashbusting my Good Folks.* After this I’m down to just 4 or 5 yards. This is going to be really awesome. I can’t wait!

*thanks for all the skirt love , btw. You’ve bolstered my confidence. Maybe I WILL wear that whole outfit out of the house after all…maybe to our next SE MI Crafter’s Meetup, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday August 17???