Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frenchy Girl, Finished and Shipped to Italy

Frenchy Girl, size 4
 Just a quick post today to show you the finished Frenchy Girl dress that I shipped off to Italy this week. I am heading to Quilt National this weekend, but wanted to update you before I leave.

I have posted the front and back, finished. In addition, I am showing the buttonhole elastic feature I mentioned in the tutorial of my last blog post. Finally, I have a close up of the adjustable bodice tab and straps. Enjoy, and have a great holiday weekend.
Frenchy Girl back, size 4

Frenchy Girl dress, deatil of adjustable straps and tabs

Frenchy Girl dress, detail showing the hidden and adjustable elastic

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Magic Baby Frenchy Girl Dress and Hidden Elastic Tutorial

Frenchy Girl Charlotte
 Today I am finishing up a custom order Frenchy Girl dress from my Magic Baby designs. It will be sent to Italy, my first custom order from that country, and I want it to be perfect! You can order your very own Frenchy Girl dress through my shop. Just tell me the colors and size you desire, and I will do the rest, creating a beautiful, one of a kind design for your Magic Baby : )

When I design anything for babies, toddlers and children, quality is important to me, so everything is stitched with care. I also strive to make sure that the items I make and sell will fit for as long as possible, so I add creative, adjustable closures, roll up cuffs and sleeves, and try to make the final product adjustable in any way it can be. If you like to sew yourself, you might enjoy learning how to add an adjustable element to any dress design with a bodice. If you try out this method, I hope to hear from you.

Hidden Elastic Tutorial
When sewing a dress with a separate front and back bodice, you can easily add a length of hidden, adjustable elastic to your creation. Normally, I make my dress designs reversible, but in this example, the dress has front and back bodices along with front and back bodice linings. The front of my Frenchy Girl dress is pleated, so I am only adding adjustable elastic to the back of the dress.

Step one, then, is to add several inches of width to the back skirt of the dress (not the bodice!) when you cut it out. I create my patchwork skirt back, making sure the seams match up with the front patchwork seams. To cut out, I fold my skirt fabric in half, and lay my pattern shape along the fold. Instead of placing the pattern edge directly on the fold, move it away anywhere from one to four inches, depending on how much added fullness you desire. Remember, your fabric is folded, so however much width you add on the fold, it will be doubled when you cut the skirt out.

Step two: Gather the back skirt fabric to match to fit the back bodice by running two sets of gathering stitches along the skirt within the seam allowance. Pull the threads, spread out the gathers, and pin it to your back bodice right sides together. Stitch in place. Now, go directly to your ironing board, and press the seam up toward the bodice. Do not skip this step if you want a professional-looking finished product : ) Normally, I would trim and topstitch the seam after ironing, but I am only going to trim the seam, and topstitch it in place later. Keep reading.

Step three: Cut a piece of bias binding the length of the seam you just created. I am using 1/4" elastic for my dress, but you can use any width you want. Just make sure the bias binding is comfortably wider than the elastic you choose, so that when you stitch it in place, the elastic will glide through. Before pinning in place, iron the raw short edges of the binding under, so that they completely clear the seam allowance on both sides of the back. Stitch each short end of the binding in place, and trim them a bit if they seem too long. This step will prevent the elastic getting stuck when you thread it through the binding casing.

Note the short end of the bias binding casing is stitched under, but not to the dress.
Step four: Pin the bias binding in place, with the bottom edge lined up with your pressed seam on the inside (wrong side) of the dress. With wrong sides up as shown in the picture above, stitch the bottom of the casing in place just above the seam and close to the binding edge. This will apply the bias binding casing and top stitch the back seam in one step. Now stitch the top of the casing seam, but do not stitch across the short ends. Leave these open to receive your elastic later.
The bias casing is sewn in place away from the side seam allowances.
Step five: Because I wanted a decorative sash on the outside of the dress (both front and back), I am adding that next, on the outside of the dress. This is also a good time to add trim, if desired. I cut my sash piece the same depth as the one on the front, shaping it by cutting it to match the shape of my bodice piece. It is wider than the little elastic casing I just added on the inside, and comes slightly below the bodice and skirt seam so that it doesn't interfere with the elastic. In the picture above you can see the stitching lines from the wrong side. Here is what it looks like from the right side:

My decorative sash with lace trim is stitched to the back
You may be wondering why I don't just add the elastic into the decorative sash. Well, I certainly could, and have in other situations. The Magic Baby Sassy Girl dress, shown in the back in the picture below, is reversible, so I added the elastic into the back casing as shown. However, in this case, I wanted to make my elastic piece adjustable, which means using buttonhole elastic, which means I don't want it to show on the outside of the dress anywhere. That design feature calls for a different solution, the one I am showing you today.
For this reversible dress, the elastic was inserted into the sash
along the seam of the skirt and bodice.
Step six: Now the dress is ready to be stitched together at the side seams. Those are pressed, trimmed and top stitched. Now, take your front and back bodice lining pieces, and iron the seam allowance hem into place. Pin them together where they will join at the side seams. Prior to stitching the bodice lining together, though, mark an opening the width of your elastic. The first mark for the bottom of the opening will be at the ironed edge of the seam allowance. Measure up from there the width of your elastic, add a "smidge" and mark. When you sew the bodice lining side seams together, sew from each end of the seam up to your marks, backstitch and stop, leaving an opening in the side seam. Press the seams open at your ironing station. Sew the bodice lining in place, topstitch or understitch as needed, turn to the inside, and press again.

Step seven: The detail picture below shows the bodice lining stitched, turned, pressed, and topstitched in place. The lining itself is still loose, however, along the bottom edge front and back. Pin the bodice lining in place along your pressed lines, so that it will cover the raw seam edge. Make sure to match the side seams. Before stitching the lining edge in place, however, slip your elastic in place. At a minimum, cut your elastic half the width of your desired chest size. I cut mine a bit long, knowing that I am going to add a length of buttonhole elastic onto either end of the elastic piece, and I prefer to have it longer to begin with, so I can adjust the amount of gathering by eye.

Thread your elastic through the opening in the lining side seam
 Step eight: Pin a safety pin to one end of your elastic, which has been cut to your desired size. Insert it through the opening in one of the bodice lining side seams, then slip it into your bias binding casing. Thread elastic through the casing to the other side, and pull it through, making sure to hold the other end of the elastic in place, so it won't be pulled all the way through! From the casing, thread the safety pin through the other bodice lining side seam opening, and pin in place. Adjust the gathers as desired. 

Step nine: My next step, which I need to do today, is to add a short piece of buttonhole elastic to each end of my regular elastic. With the addition of buttonhole elastic, my design dream is realized: it allows the dress to be adjustable in width, adding months, maybe years, of wearability. Since I haven't completed this dress yet, I will show you an example from another dress. You get the idea!

This is buttonhole elastic
Once you are happy with your elastic on the back bodice, stitch it in place, or sew two tiny buttons on the side seams, and button it in place. Sew your bodice lining down to cover the skirt seams, and you are finished!
Buttonhole elastic buttons to the side seams, and get be made tighter or looser, depending on the size required. What a great invention!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and please, let me know how it works for you.

Finally, a few pictures of my Frenchy Girl custom order, not yet hemmed or finished. I'll post pix when it's done, and before I ship it to Italy. The final pictures show you another one I made last year for a different client. Thanks for stopping by. 

Unfinished Frenchy Girl in pink, front
Unfinished Frenchy Girl in pink, back
with elastic inserted
Frenchy Girl custom order, size 8T, finished last year

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring is for Sewing

Robot Double Flannel Blankie
I love this time of year, don't you? With the days slowly growing longer, I feel more energetic. More energy means more fun, creative time in my world. I have been busy so far this week, trying to keep up with the piles on my sewing table. I sew during the day, but at night I like to hang out with my husband, so that is often when I size out my patterns, or cut out new pieces to be sewn.  This week, I have tried to move things along, sewing a bit on this one, a bit on that one. I was really pleased with the little robot flannel reversible jacket I am finishing up. It matches the Robot Snuggle flannel blankie already finished. I'll show you pix soon. By the way, my snuggle blankies are adorable, and I have several listed in my etsy shop. They make great shower gifts, as well. They are designed to be perfect for both infants and toddlers, with two sides, rounded corners, embroidered edges, and a tag for dragging : )

Last night I received my first custom order from Italy. The client ordered my always popular Little Frenchy dress in pink and lime green. This one is single-sided, but I also love making the reversible ones. I am partial to the design first, because I think it is so cute and, secondly, because it is the first design I made for my Magic Baby Designs. Love it! Single sided or reversible, Little Frenchy dresses are available from newborn babies to girl's size 8. Here are a few examples. Hope you love them as much as I do : )

This one is in traditional French Provence colors. It's completely reversible and height adjustable.
Look at these sweeties, two Little Frenchies! Oh yes, the design is available as a reversible overall, too.
A Little Frenchy baby dress

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today is the Day

One of my WorldWear Designs
Yes, indeed…today is the day. Thanks to my daughter’s help, I now have a blog for Magic Baby Designs, and a website in the works. Woohoo! Although I utilize my etsy shop to sell my wares, I have been wanting a place to show you everything I am making, and to interact with my clients. I am very excited.

In the studio, I have been very busy creating fun, new designs, such as my new WorldWear line, seen here. Inspired by world travels and ethnic fabrics, these designs, available for both Magic Baby boys and girls, celebrate children as citizens of the world.