Adding a circle skirt to the Flashback Tee

This weekend I made a twirl dress for Clementine to wear to a friend’s Nutcracker performance. I used the Flashback Tee pattern (size 9/10) and added a circle skirt. She was delighted. Both the fact that it’s pink and it’s got major twirl are big selling points for her. I’ve made her a number of Flashback dresses before, most involving two gathered rectangles, but the twirl skirt was such a big win I’m not sure she’ll let me make another gathered one. We’ll see. 

Here’s a quick how-to just in case you want to make one with your Flashback tee pattern! 

You will need: 

*Additional yardage is absolutely necessary in order to make the circle skirt, especially if you want the circle to have no seams. I purchased 3 yards of this pink double brushed poly knit (see my quick guide to knits for more info on the different types of knit and how they differ), and ended up with about 30″ left over after I was finished (this is a size 9/10). However, if you are making a smaller size or want a shorter skirt (this one was 25″ long), you’d definitely need less than that. My best advice is to sketch out your skirt ahead of time (see the diagrams below) and use that to calculate how much additional yardage you’ll need beyond what the tee calls for. 

**Serger. Do ya need one? My head says no but my heart says yes. Check out my Do you need a serger post for more thoughts on this. Could I have made this dress as quickly without my serger? No. Could it have been more mindful and relaxing process if I had used Natalie Chanin’s hand-stitching knit techniques to sew all of the seams? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t be finished with the dress yet. And that smooth waist seam is easier to achieve with a serger than with a sewing machine.

Step 1: Crop the bodice pattern piece

You need to shorten the tee bodice pattern piece if you want the waist seam to land near the waist and not the hip. 

I first folded the Flashback Tee bodice pattern piece in half from hem to armpit, but the skirt was so heavy (it’s super stretchy poly and has quite a bit of weight) so had to crop it higher up for the waist to land where I wanted it to. This ended up being roughly 1/3 of the way down from the armpit. You may want to start by cropping the pattern halfway between armpit and hem, pin the skirt on, and see how it looks before you sew it. 

Step 2: Sew the tee

Cut out the fabric for the tee (bodices, sleeves, neckband) and sew it together. Skip hemming the tee. I added ruffled cuffs rather than hemming the sleeves.

Step 3: Cut out the circle skirt

Here’s where it gets a little tricky but stay with me.

To make a circle skirt, you cut a big circle with a little circle cut out of the center (for the waist). The radius of the big circle minus the radius of the little circle is the length of your circle skirt (I made mine about 25″ long, though I ended up trimming away a bit of length at the sides and mid-way to the center since she wanted a bit of an uneven cascading look when it was hanging down). 

To get the radius of the little circle, first take the width across the bottom of the finished tee, and divide by 3.14 (that’s right: PI, you math nerds!):

width of tee / 3.14 = X

Now take X and subtract 1/2″ to get the radius of the small circle:

X – 1/2″ = R

“R” is the radius of the little circle, and R in my diagrams below. The reason that you subtract 1/2″ from X before cutting this circle is a safety measure: you actually need the circle skirt waist to be a teensy bit smaller than the tee waist, and it’s ALWAYS BETTER TO CUT THAT CIRCLE SMALLER THAN TOO BIG!!!

Now cut your skirt out. Cut this way if you want side and back seams (I did mine this way); you also save on fabric if you do it this way:

Cut out your skirt this way if you want it to be a continuous circle, no seams:

Step 4: Sew and attach the skirt

You’ll need to sew the sides and back seam together if you cut it out the way I did, then pin and sew the skirt to the tee, right sides together. To achieve a nice smooth waist seam, I sewed them together without pulling or stretching the fabric out at all. I tried it first with my sewing machine on a zig zag stitch (to try it on), then ran it through my serger with the differential set to 1.7 once I was happy with the location of the waist seam.

Twirly dress, achieved!

For extra overachiever points, sew a matching one for the doll. Heh heh heh, yeah. I DID. Not the first time, either. 

Fanciful dress for Clementine

made by rae fanciful dress for clementine
made by rae fanciful dress for clementine

When my Fanciful yardage arrived I asked Clementine if there were any prints that she wanted to wear, and this pale pink print was her favorite. I designed this overlapping back bodice using Geranium as a base pattern, thinking it would be cute to have a black bow in the back. I originally thought this might work as a tutorial or new pattern, but while I was sewing it, it I discovered that the overlap presents an issue with the lining at the spot where the two layers overlap, so if this design is to become anything I’ll have to try it without the lining instead. All that to say: this isn’t a pattern or tutorial; more experimentation is needed.

I still think it’s a fun piece to show off this understated print, which might go unnoticed amongst the more exciting prints in this collection. You can see the entire collection here, and Fanciful is in shops now!

PS. Read my thoughts about sewing garments with quilting cotton.

made by rae fanciful dress for clementine

How to sew shorts

It’s summertime — hurrah!!! — and that means it’s shorts time. Shorts are fun and easy to sew, both for kids and grownups alike. When I stumbled across this little infographic I made a few years back for a different post, I thought it was worth a repost for those of you who might be interested in getting into the shorts sewing game!

To make shorts like these, you’ll need a shorts pattern (see pattern notes below), fabric, and some waistband elastic (I like 1″ wide for kid shorts; 1.25″ wide for adult shorts), as well as basic sewing supplies like a sewing machine, pins, scissors, and a safety pin.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

First, cut out two mirror-image pieces from your fabric using your shorts pattern — each piece will become the left and right sides. The pics below are from when I made a couple pairs of Parsley Shorts for Clementine a few years ago.

how to sew shorts

Step 1: First, you need to sew the center (“crotch”) seams, for both the front and back. This is done by placing the two pieces of the shorts together and sewing the front and back curved edges.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 2: Sew the legs together: open up the pant, pin the center seams together, and sew up one leg and down the other. This seam is also called the “inseam.”

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 3: For basic pants or shorts, an elastic waistband can be made by folding and pressing the top edge 1/4″ towards the inside of the shorts, folding another 1-1.5″ down, and then stitching along the lower fold to form a casing for the elastic. Then you thread the elastic through the waistband, stitch the ends together, and close the hole. I always put a little piece of folded ribbon in the hole before I sew it shut so my kids can tell front from back when they’re getting dressed.

how to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 4: Hem the bottom of the shorts by folding and pressing 1/4″ twice towards the inside of the shorts and then stitching that second fold down. You can make a wider hem by folding 1/4″ and then 1,” or replace the 1″ with whatever width you want!

how to sew shorts / made by rae

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Pattern notes
To make shorts that are this quick and easy, it helps if you’re working with shorts that are made of just two pieces of fabric (so: a single pattern piece). Here a couple of options if you’re looking for a simple shorts pattern:

double gauze shorts

I made this cute pair of double gauze shorts for Hugo using the Parsley pattern and he loves them. They’re white, so they attract a lot of dirt, but the double gauze is soft and has held up surprisingly well over two summers.

PS. You might also like my Super Seams post, to make shorts that will last!

Issie Top in Sidewalk Knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

We’ve had a bit of extra yardage from my Sidewalk Knits kicking around for a while, so when Suz of Sew Pony emailed to see if I’d like to try out her new Issie Top pattern for kids, I was excited to try it out with the little shoe print. If you’re not familiar with the Sew Pony brand, it’s got a great lineup of children’s sewing patterns that each have unique details. I especially love that they often have a bit of a retro vibe to them. In this case, however, I thought Clementine would fall for the shoulder ruffles on this cute tee (she did).

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

I’ll take a minute so you can recover from the shock of how old Clementine looks in these photos. It feels like she’s aged a million years in the last year. She’s definitely grown like a weed — she’s almost as tall as Elliot, who is 2.5 years older than her!!

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

After a brief warming up period with this top, where she refused to wear it for a couple months and I decided I’d never get a photo of her in it, ever, she tried it on (finally!) and now wears it every week. Welcome to the on again off again relationship that is sewing for my 8.5 year old daughter. I am happy that the size 9 that she measured in the pattern last fall still fits her with plenty of room, so I think she’ll be able to wear it for at least another year. Yay!! for kids’ clothes that fit for a long time, especially handmade ones, amiright?Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Suz just launched the Jeune Twin Set, a lovely skirt and top pattern, so check that one out! She also kindly offered readers of this blog a 10% discount on the Issie pattern with the code ISSIEBYRAE10.

You can find the Issie Top pattern in the Sew Pony shop!

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

Clementine's Starry Sky skirt

These simple gathered skirts are so easy and addicting to make. I used the Starry Sky skirt project that I contributed to the most recent issue of Making Magazine for these. Perhaps the fact that I made not one but three for Clementine is evidence that they are basically Sewing Crack? They nearly fall off my machine. Bonus: she’s worn these three skirts non stop since January. When it was cold she’d wear them with leggings underneath, and now that it’s warm she wears them with those shorty-legging things that are called tumble shorts or undershorts or something like that.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

This first version is made with a Japanese quilting cotton that I picked up on a trip to Seattle last year at a great shop in Kirkland called Circa 15. Great quilting fabric selection but also a great selection of apparel fabrics (union chambray, double gauze) there as well. It’s hard to see but there are tiny little pandas scattered in the flowers. Clementine picked it out.

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

The second one is a Nani Iro brushed cotton that has some sort of magical glitter ink (unicorn blood?) so the flowers sparkle. The sparkles are a Big Win with my girl, and the brushed cotton makes it super soft.

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

Check out my little vampire. Until a couple of weeks ago we were convinced those front teeth would never grow back. She’s been completely toothless in front for nearly six months. And then, a few weeks ago, a solitary front tooth started growing in, and the dentist assures me there are more to come.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

One thing I should point out (that you can really see in the photo above) is that Clementine is taller than the size I made for her, so the hem on these skirts lands a little higher than normal on her. She measures a size 7 in her waist but a size 9 height, so a I made a size 8 as a comprimise. There’s still a 2″ hem, however, so I can take them down yet in fall. I also like to leave a little excess elastic in the waist so that I can take the waist out too. These skirts really can last a long time if you want them to!

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

I made the third skirt with my Sidewalk Knit in the green pencil print. I’ve discovered that this print is nearly impossible to photograph correctly; I think it must be a combination of the super bright colors with that teal hue…for the life of me I cannot get my camera or editing software to get the colors right on screen, though the closest one is above.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

The knit makes the skirt drape closer to the body, so there’s less “poof” to it than the other two, but it’s comfortable and swishy.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

If you’re looking for the instructions for this skirt (it comes in both children’s and women’s sizes), pick up a copy of Making Magazine issue 3! It’s now available online from the Making shop, as well as many other local yarn and fabric shops. Here in Ann Arbor you can pick up a copy at Spun in Kerrytown.

Starry Sky Skirt – Making Magazine no. 3

Starry Sky Skirt

I am so honored to have been asked to contribute to Making magazine’s third issue, Dots, which is out this spring. For those of you not familiar with Making, it’s a themed print magazine that includes sewing, knitting, handwork, and all sorts of other craft-related articles, patterns, and tutorials all compiled in the most beautiful layout. The magazine is the work of Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder, who serves as both its editor, designer, and chief photographer. This issue’s theme is “Dots;” issues one and two are Flora and Fauna. All are visually stunning.  I love how Making brings together so many areas of of craft together; there are tons of patterns and tutorials alongside articles that include recipes and interviews and stories about makers in such an artistic format.

Making magazine no. 3 dots

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo above by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I first became familiar with Carrie’s work through Quince and Co, one of my favorite yarn companies. Carrie designed a number of knitting patterns for Quince that are available in the Quince shop that I’ve admired and purchased over the years. I was so honored to be asked to contribute alongside of so many other talented artists and makers. My friend Anna Graham blogged here about the wallet pattern that she contributed for the issue.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Starry Sky skirt
The project I contributed to the magazine is a tutorial for a simple gathered skirt called the Starry Sky Skirt. A simple gathered skirt is — as my friend Erin said recently when she posted one on Instagram — the “gateway drug to the sewing world,” and it’s certainly a lovely thing to throw together two rectangles of fabric and add a waistband. But although I’m certain many people have written tutorials for the basic gathered skirt before, something I felt was still missing was specific length and width dimensions for gathered skirts for a broader range of humans; not only children’s sizes but also all the way up to adult sizes (including plus). The pattern includes dimensions all the way from a children’s size 1 (12 months) all the way through the nine women’s sizes my patterns currently span, which is to say, from a waist size of 19″ to 45.” The skirt is designed to hit roughly at the knee, and has length built into the hem for extra adjustability and height differences. I love having these dimensions at arm’s length; it takes the guesswork out of making a quick skirt for me, which means it’s an even easier project to whip out in an hour or so, and of course I’ve provided step by step instructions to help even the beginner tackle this project. If you have the magazine I hope you’ll find this useful for making piles of simple skirts for yourself and little ones!

Starry Sky Skirt

The fabric
When Carrie first told me the theme was Dots and shared her inspiration board with me, I was inspired to create a skirt out of dark fabric with lighter dots scattered over it like a starry sky. Initially I thought I might try to figure out a way to stamp a solid blue fabric to get the desired effect, but when Carrie mentioned she had two double gauze fabrics that might work already in her stash, I was really excited. The fabric she sent for me to make the women’s skirt is a now out-of-print Nani Iro double gauze, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, don’t you think? I’ve already received a number of emails asking where to find this fabric, and regrettably I don’t think this particular print is available any longer, but I do recommend checking out Jones and Vandermeer, Miss Matatabi, and Red Beauty Textiles if you want something similar. All of those shops are places that carry a nice selection of Nani Iro and I’ve purchased from all three of them in the past.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I also love the reversible dotted double gauze (above) that Carrie sent; I was able to make two children’s skirts for the shoot, one with the blue on the outside and one with the white (below) on the outside. They made an adorable pair (see top photo).

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Making Magazine issue 3 is now available online from the Making shop, as well as many other local yarn and fabric shops. Here in Ann Arbor you can pick up a copy at Spun in Kerrytown.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

It’s Friday, friends. And what a week. Let’s talk about something fun, like this cheerful knit top I made for Clementine!

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

I started with my Flashback Skinny Tee pattern in a size 7/8 (how is she so big? WAAAAAH *weeps into coffee cup*), cut off the bodice halfway between the armpit and the hem and added a gathered skirt to the bottom. I made the skirt twice as wide as the bodice and about 11″ tall. Everything else is exactly the same as the original Flashback pattern (cuffs, neckband, fit, etc). I’ve made Flashbacks with skirts before (here and here), but as dresses instead of a top.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

This awesome fabric is a Monaluna knit in Groovy Lotus and I love how it has a very Scandinavian-esque vibe, kind of like something you would find in Hanna Andersson. I’ve always loved the feel and modern designs of Monaluna fabrics (owner Jennifer Moore is a friend and so lovely), so I almost can’t believe this was the first time I sewed with one of the knits. Verdict? Nice and soft, nice amount of stretch, yet still very easy to work with. Love that it’s 100% organic, too! So nice that I went out and bought a bunch more from her shop last month when she had a knits sale (hint: get on the shop email list!).

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And here is my little goofball illustrating her favorite poses:

 

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Some serious walk-off fodder here.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And…cross-eyed. That’s my little lady.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, everyone!

Ice Cream Birthday Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine has been obsessed with her birthday since March when the boys had their birthdays. I had to make a rule that she couldn’t ask me about her birthday until June 30, one month beforehand, because I thought she was going to drive me absolutely bonkers with the persistent questions and birthday plans. It was seriously unrelenting. But of course that’s what makes birthdays fun at this age, right? It’s that golden age when you finally understand what a birthday is but you haven’t yet realized that birthdays also can be emotionally overwhelming and ultimately disappointing. How’s that for dark?

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

She decided she wanted an Ice Cream theme for her birthday sometime around April, which was right around the time that my friend Dana announced her new line of fabrics for Art Gallery, Boardwalk Delight. Talk about perfect timing! The entire collection is bright and adorable and Dana’s awesome bold and modern aesthetic comes through so clearly in this collection. I love it.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

I knew immediately that the “I scream, You scream” print was destined for Clementine’s birthday dress. I used the ever-popular Geranium Dress which is such a pattern chameleon; it seriously works for everything, I swear (I’m not biased, not in the least), and added a double-fold hem band to the bottom edge in the sprinkles print.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

For the lining I used the twinkle lights print, which adds a pop of fun mango orange color to the inside of the dress.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine loves her dress! She wore it for her birthday party, which included a swim with a few friends at the city pool (in her ice cream cone swimsuit), ice cream sundaes, and an ice cream felt banner that we made together. She had a really wonderful time…as far as I could tell, no hint of Birthday Disappointment in this one yet.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Also pictured here: the Clara doll we got her for her birthday, which she refuses to be separated from. It’s neat because Hilary Lang’s blog, Wee Wonderfuls, was one of the very first blogs I ever followed way back in the day, so I was excited to see that she was licensing her dolls with Land of Nod. All of her dolls are so cute.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Fabric: Boardwalk Delight by Dana Willard (Made Everyday) for Art Gallery Fabrics
Pattern: Geranium Dress Sewing Pattern (size 7)

 

Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

We bought a city pool pass for the summer and have been to the pool twice already since school got out hurrah!! Unfortunately we had to leave mid-way through the first trip due to a “contamination” at the pool, but…let’s move on. Clementine decided she needed a swim coverup, and had clear ideas about making it, so we got to work.

Aqua Swim Coverup

She’s discovered the joy of having an idea and then sewing it to life, which gives me a great deal of joy, as you can imagine. For me (and I’m sure for many of you), sewing is more than just choosing fabric and a pattern and making something; it’s about realizing a vision, and I’m excited that Clementine is starting to get that. She doesn’t feel restrained by pattern pieces (though it probably would be easier if she did), she just decides what she wants and says “let’s make it!” It’s still my job to figure out how to get from idea to finished thing, but I’m sure over time she’ll begin to understand the fundamentals of clothing-building. She can operate the sewing machine pretty well with minimal supervision (she has her own Hello Kitty Janome), so that’s fun.

Aqua Swim Coverup

This project took all of an hour, since it’s basically just a rectangle of rib knit fabric (purchased here) sewn together at the side to make a tube, with some shirring on the top and straps added (similar to the Beach Goddess Maxi, but shorter and with straps). I didn’t even hem the top and bottom; I just used my serger to finish the edges with the standard serger overlock stitch. I did most of the sewing this time, while Clementine stood by and barked orders. She did find the shirring part to be pretty fascinating.

Aqua Swim Coverup

The coverup shrunk by about 3 inches in length when I threw it in the wash, even though I prewashed the fabric, which reminds me to mention that when you are sewing with knits, you really should prewash and dry your fabric two or even three times if you’re worried about shrinkage. It wasn’t a big deal her since it started out a little long (and now, perfect!), but if this had happened after I had made her a tee, I would have been frustrated. Takeaway lesson: PREWASH KNITS MULTIPLE TIMES!

Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

As you can see, she’s still a character. But she’s grown so much bigger this year…waaaah!!! Aqua Swim Coverup

shirring infographic

Here are some more shirring posts from the blog:

Tutorial: Shirring with Elastic Thread (how to shirr!)

1. Aqua Swim Coverup
2. Beach Goddess Maxi tutorial
3. Baby Sunsuit Tutorial (free!)
4. Pomegranate Pierrot with Shirring
5. Princess and the Pea sundress
6. Yellow Birthday Dress with Bows
7. hello pilgrim!
8. Rainbow Dress Tutorial (free!)
9. Summersville Washi Tunic