Last summer I made this dress. I used a pattern that I’d got through an offer in a magazine.
I don’t usually make clothes for myself from patterns because I find that they often don’t fit. This dress was no exception.I have only worn it once because it was too big. Also there are only about 3 days in our English summers when it’s actually hot enough to wear something like this!
Anyway, we are going to another wedding in a couple of weeks and I have nothing to wear. The Cherry Blossom Dress I made for our friends Matt and Vicky’s wedding in April I now wear all the time because I love it!
So instead of making something new, I have decided to take this dress in and make it fit.
Here are my steps for altering a dress!
How to Alter a Dress
1. Identify exactly what is wrong with it and what and where it needs fixing. This dress was way too long and too baggy in the top.
On closer inspection, the main problem seemed to be that the midriff section was too wide at the top, although the bottom was a bit snug. It appears to have been designed for somebody who is cuboid in shape. I don’t know whether being a cuboid is normal, but I am not a cuboid so it needed fixing.
The rest of the top section was also a bit big.
The length of the skirt was easier to sort out, but the top section needed doing first.
2. Put the dress on inside out and pin it where it needs to be taken in. Mark with a pen or tailors’ chalk. Take the dress off.
When taking in a dress, areas that might need consideration include darts, side seams and back seams depending on the construction of the dress. It may be necessary to remove the zip to take in side seams and if there are not darts, you might need to add some.
Thankfully this dress was only a bit too big, so only the side seams needed attention.
3. Make your alterations. If it is easy to detach the lining from the main dress, then make alterations to both bits separately then reattach the lining. It wasn’t going to be possible with this dress though!
The lining was attached to the bodice in sections and I had finished the raw edges of the lining, bodice and skirt after I had sewn it all together.
I didn’t want to completely deconstruct the dress. It was going to be a faff so I decided to take the easiest approach.
I unpicked the side seam a little bit and unpicked where the lining and the bodice were sewn together at the top. Then I pinned the front and back sections of the bodice together again. Next I folded the top edges of the lining and the main inwards again, but changing it so that the edges met at the seam and there was not an extra bit poking out.
After sewing it, I trimmed the seam, finished the edges and pressed the seam to the side so that it would not be visible from the outside.
The other side seam was slightly trickier because I had to remove the zip. After taking the zip out using the unpicker, I repinned the seam then sewed it up. Next I trimmed the seam down bit and opened it out. Officially I pressed it flat but I didn’t actually do that! Then I pinned the zip over the seam, tacked it then sewed it in place.Once I had reattached the zip, I unpicked the the seam.If you would like a detailed tutorial for sewing in a zip, you can find one here.
Phew, tricky bit over!
When adjusting a hemline, it’s easiest if you have somebody to help you. However it is still possible even if you don’t. I managed just fine!
I dangled a tape measure from my waist to just below my knee. Dangling the tape measure upside down made the process a lot easier! Then I measured the skirt of the dress from the waist, pinning where I wanted the new length to be.
Next I cut off the bottom section of the skirt, making sure that I allowed enough for a new hem (it was about a couple of cm). Then I hemmed the skirt again with a folded hem.
Ta da! Now it fits, more or less! And it’s warm enough to wear it!Linking up at these parties:
How to sew a mitred corner might seem like something you only need to know if you make quilts.
But it is actually a useful thing to be able to do if you make anything flat that has a lining and corners. I have used mitred corners on lined table cloths and table mats. You might also want to use them on table runners, playmats, baby blankets, lined napkins, picnic stuff, and probably a whole load I haven’t thought of.
Mitring allows you to finish the corners easily and neatly and mitring the lining over the top of the thing that you are making means also that you have a pretty border to finish it off!
Here is how I mitre a corner when making something with a lining. I don’t know if this is the right way, but it is the way I have found to be easiest.
How to Sew Mitred Corners
1. Pin your thing that you are making to the centre of the lining with the wrong sides together. Depending on how much of a border you would like around the edge of your finished project, allow 1 – 3 cm of the lining to overhang the edge.
2. Cut a tiny bit off the point of the corner of the lining. Fold the corner of the lining inwards so that it touches the corner of the front section.3. Fold the corner over again. The raw edge will now be enclosed and the lining will overlap the corner of the front piece. Pin to hold it.
4. Now fold the edge of the lining on one side of the corner inwards so that the raw edge meets the raw edge of the front. Fold it over again so that the raw edges are enclosed inside the border. Pin.
5. Repeat for the edge on the other side of the corner. Pin the corners carefully so that it doesn’t come undone.6. Repeat for the other corners7. Keeping close to the inside edge, carefully top stitch all the way round.
The pretty lining is visible instead of being lost underneath!Linking up at these parties:
As Boy 4 still does not object to being dressed up like a dolly, I have decided to make the most of it, especially as there may only be a few more months left before he really starts to resist! Last week I took him off to visit our local fabric shop to let him choose some stuff to make him some dungarees and some more little trousers.
Last time I made him dungarees was 2 whole years ago! You can read that post here. Where does the time go? I used a pattern to make them, mainly because I was worried about messing them up and the fabric was expensive.
This time I decided to have a go without a pattern.
I could pretend that it was all plain sailing and as easy as pie, and that I whipped up a pair of dungarees without any trouble at all. If I said that this was the case, I would be lying. Sometimes when you make stuff without a pattern (and even with a pattern!), things go a bit wrong. However, the problems I encountered were all fixable, so I hope this post shows that things don’t always go according to plan, but some creative thinking is often all that is needed to turn around a potential sewing disaster.
How to Make Toddler Dungarees Without a Pattern
You Will Need: paper and pencil (greaseproof paper or newspaper are best, but normal A4 printer paper is fine), 1 – 1.5 m cotton fabric depending on the size of the child, 2 buttons, elastic, usual sewing supplies.
To Make the Pattern
1. Find a pair of trousers that fit your child well. I used a pair of pyjama bottoms.
2. Place the trousers on the paper and draw round them. Remember to add a seam allowance. If the waist is elasticated, you will need to stretch it out.
3. Add a bit extra at the top for elastic on the back. If your child wears cloth nappies, you might need to add a little bit more in the bottom area.
4. Pin the fabric and cut out. You will need 2 for the front and 2 for the back.
5. For the bib, I held a piece of A4 paper up against Boy 4 and quickly drew where the buttons would need to go. From this it was possible to work out where the top and the edges of the bib would need to be. To make it symmetrical, I folded the paper in half before cutting.
6. Pin the bib to the fabric and cut 2 pieces.
7. For the straps, cut 2 strips of fabric 10 cm wide and as long as the distance from your child’s waist, over their shoulder to where the button will be, plus a bit extra. Mine were 50 cm long.
1. Take the bib pieces and, with the right sides together, pin then sew along the top and the sides. Trim the seams, turn out and press. Top stitch around the top and the sides.
2. Take your front trouser pieces and sew along the middle seam. Repeat for the back pieces. Trim the seams and press them flat.
3. Did you forget to add an extra bit at the back for the casing? Never mind. So did I!
To solve that little oversight, I cut an extra strip of fabric and sewed it on to the back of section of the trousers.
4. Pin the bib to the top of the trousers front section with the right sides together and the centre aligned. Sew. Press the seam downwards. Top stitch across the top of the trousers. This will help to reinforce the seam holding the bib to the trousers, and also hem the top of the front of the trousers.
5. Pin the two trouser sections together. Starting at the leg end, sew the side seams, then the inside seam. There will be an extra bit at the top of the back section. This is for the casing for the elastic. If you forgot to add an extra bit when you were cutting out, don’t worry! Go back to step 3, it’s still fixable!
6. Press the side seams open. Unless you have one of those skinny little extra ironing boards, this could be tricky. Pressing it with your finger will probably do the job. Fold the raw edges at the side of the casing inwards. Sew.
7. Fold the casing over, folding the raw edge underneath. Pin, then sew. I know my casing looks huge! When I had cut out the pieces, I knew that there was no way the trouser bits would cover Boy 4’s chubby little bum so the casing serves as an extra bit to make them big enough!
It was far to big to be casing for the elastic, so I added another row of stitches nearer the top.
8. Work out how much elastic you will need for the back of the trousers. I measured the elastic against Boy 4 while he was asleep! Thread the elastic through the casing. The easiest way to do this is to put a safety pin in one end of the elastic and wiggle it through. Pin it in place. Don’t sew it just yet!
8. To make the straps, fold each strip of fabric in half lengthways. Open out, then fold the raw edges inwards. Fold in half again and pin. Sew along the open edge. I also sewed along the other side.
9. Lay out the straps and pin them where you want them to cross over. Sew them together. Pin to the back of the dungarees on the wrong side, checking that each strap is the same distance from the centre seam.
10. Unpin the elastic and sew the straps on, taking care not to sew over the casing. Also I would recommend getting the safety pin right out of the way. On my first attempt I did not. Thankfully I only ended up with messy stitches and not a broken sewing machine!
11. Rethread the elastic. Pin, then sew over the ends a few times to hold.
12. Because I added such a large section to the back, it looked really messy. To fix this, I cut two triangles, hemmed the long edge then sewed them over the side of the back and onto the front.
13. Wrestle your toddler into the dungarees. Work out where the buttons need to go on the straps and pin (or mark with chalk if they are very wriggly!) the hem of the trouser legs.
I found that the trousers were far too big! Did I mention that I’m paranoid about things being too small? I added some more elastic to the front between the side seams and the bib, but they were still huge. In the end I resorted to tucks between the bib and the side seam. They are a little bit clownlike but at least Boy 4’s trousers won’t be draughty!
14. Sew on the buttons and make the button holes.
15. Hem the trouser legs.Here is Boy 4 in his new dungarees, made from fabric he chose himself. Despite the difficulties I had, I’m pleased with the results!
Don’t forget to add seam allowances.
You may need to allow a bit more fabric if your little person wears cloth nappies.
If the bits look huge, they are probably the right size! If they are too big it is usually easy enough to make things smaller.
When sewing the inside leg, start at the middle seam and do one leg, then go back to the middle seam and sew up the other leg. That way the seams will match.
Clipping the curved seams will make the leg seams less likely to look wrinkly.
Keeping some extra fabric in the trouser legs and the straps, and some extra elastic will allow you to adjust the dungarees as your child grows. All you’ll have to do is move the buttons, let down the trousers and let out some of the elastic. This is especially good if the dungarees turn out to be very cute!
All kinds of crocheted things start off as a circle, so it’s a very useful thing to be know how to do if you want to make your own stuff without using a pattern. Hats, bags, crocheted bowls, flowers and a whole load of other stuff start off with a circle.
So here is how to crochet a circle!
Please note that because I am English I have used British crochet terms, although I think if you use trebles instead of dcs it will probably still work.
Make 4 ch, then join with ss, then:
1. 1 ch, then 6 dc into the circle.
2. 1 ch, then *2 dc into next stitch* 6 times. Join with ss. 12 stitches.
3. 1 ch, then *1 dc into next stitch, then 2 dc into next stitch* 6 times. Join with ss. 18 stitches.
4. 1 ch, then * 1 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch, 2 dc into next stitch* 6 times. Join with ss. 24 stitches.
5. 1 ch, then *1 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch, 2 dc into next stitch* 6 times. Join with ss. 30 stitches.
You’ve probably spotted a pattern. Each time round, the number of single dcs you make before increasing by adding an extra one increases by 1.
The other useful thing here is that the number of rounds corresponds with the number of stitches as a multiple of 6. So the 4th round should end with 24 stitches. 4 x 6 is 24. Whoever thought the 6 x table would actually be useful!
I find it helpful to think of the stitches in groups based on the number of the round. So for the 4th round, I think of the stitches in groups of 4: 1 dc, 1 dc, then the 3rd and 4th dcs into the same stitch. For the 5th round, 1 dc, 1 dc, 1 dc then the 4th and 5th stitches into the same stitch.
It’s easy to keep going until the circle is as big as you need it to be!
I am currently crocheting circles to make coasters.
A few weeks ago, I received some information about the Hillarys crafts competition and I thought it would be fun to enter. Also it involved being sent a metre of fabric for free, so I wasn’t going to turn that down!
There were 4 fabrics to choose from. The options were all quite feminine so I chose the least girly, thinking that I could make something for Boy 4, perhaps a little jacket.
However when the fabric arrived, I discovered it was shiny! It’s beautiful, but no way could I turn it into a jacket for Boy 4 because he would look like a tiny little rapper.
So I decided to make something for myself instead. As I am rather chunky (too many babies and too much cake, as I may have mentioned before), i was going to need additional fabric if I was going to make something that would fit.
I opted for a skirt with godets. This is something I had wanted to try for a while and here was an opportunity!
Here is the tutorial in case you want to make one yourself!
How to Make a Skirt With Godets
You Will Need: 1 m main fabric, 1 m contrast fabric, 15 cm zip, 1 m satin ribbon, 4 m broderie anglaise.
Measurements: You will need to measure your waist and then about 15 cm down from your waist. To both measurements add 16 cm, then a couple of extra cm.
The extra 16 cm are necessary because your skirt will be made of 8 panels, each needing a 1 cm seam allowance. The addition 2 cm are because I always worry about making things too small!
Divide each measurement by 8. Then divide in 2.
So my waist was 94 cm. 94 + 16 + 2 = 112.
112 divided by 8 = 14.
14 divided by 2 = 7. So my first final measurement is 7cm.
15 cm down from my waist was 110 cm. 110 + 16 + 2 = 128.
128 cm divided by 8 = 16.
16 divided by 2 = 8. My second final measurement is 8 cm.
Cutting out: Take a piece of paper (greaseproof paper and newspaper are good for this) and fold it in half. Along the top from the fold, measure and mark off your first final measurement. Mine was 7 cm.
From the top, measure down 15 cm. Then out from the fold, mark off your second final measurement. Mine was 8 cm.
Next, measure down 35 cm and out from there, 23 cm. Join it all up.
You should have a piece 50 cm long, in a vague rectangle shape that is wider at the bottom.
Unfold it and use this piece to cut out 8 sections from your main fabric.
To make the godets, draw a triangle 35 cm along the base and 34 cm high. I had run out of greaseproof paper at this point so I just drew it straight onto the fabric.
You will need 8 of these triangular sections.
1. Take 2 of the main sections and, with the right sides together, pin the top 15 cm of the side seam. Sew. Repeat for the other sections. You should now have 4 bits, each made up of two rectangular pieces. If they look like tiny weird trousers, you have done it right!
2. Now take two of the tiny weird trousers and pin them, right sides together, along the top 15 cm of the side seam. Repeat for the others. You now have the front and back of your skirt.
3. With the wrong sides together, pin the triangles to the open sections of the seams. The easiest way to do this is to start at the bottom. Sew the triangles in.
4. With the wrong sides together, pin one of the side seams. Now with the skirt inside out, put it on and pin the other side. This is where I was really hoping I’d got the maths right! Using a pen, mark where the pins are on either side. Take the skirt off and pin it the side seams back together. Sew both the side seams. Mark the side seams with a pin. Trim the seams.
You might be wondering how I’m planning to get back into it if I’ve sewn it up on both sides. I have a plan! There will be a zip, just not yet!
5. As the fabric was beginning to fray a little, I needed to finish the edges. It is up to you whether you do this. It can be the difference between having something you can wear a lot and something that will disintegrate the first time you wash it. Obviously if you are using fabric that doesn’t fray that won’t be an issue!
If you are finishing the raw edges, just make sure that the side seam where you want to put the zip is pressed open.
6. Press the seams if you haven’t already. Identify the seam where you will be adding the zip. On the wrong side, pin the zip over the seam. Tack in place. Sew round the zip then unpick the seam to expose the zip. A more detailed tutorial for how to insert a zip can be found here. Phew, now you’ll be able to wear it!
7. To make the waist band, I used a length of ribbon. Fold the ribbon in half lengthways and either iron it or press it with your finger. I found the finger method worked just fine. Pop it over the top of the skirt. To make sure that I didn’t leave pin marks in the ribbon, I pinned it to the wrong side then folded the top over as I sewed. Make sure that the raw edges at either end are tucked in.
Hem the skirt then add the broderie anglaise. As the broderie anglaise I was using didn’t have a raw edge, I sewed it onto the right side over the hem.These photos of the finished skirt were taken by Boy 1. I think he did very well for a nine year old, especially as he only ever takes photos of buses!
All the entries are being pinned to a Pinterest board here and the winners will be chosen from a shortlist of 10. I’m looking forward to seeing what other people have made!