Wrap Up A Holiday Outfit

Do you attend fancy Christmas parties that involve dinner, dancing, and drinking adult beverages?  Or do you prefer a simpler setting that includes sweatpants, eggnog, snuggling your kiddos and pets, and perhaps a Hallmark Christmas movie (or two)?  I used to really enjoy attending the fancy fun parties, because other than a wedding reception, how often do you get to dress up, enjoy a nice dinner and dance the night away?  But I also enjoy the simple (and sometimes noisy, chaotic, crazy, and wonderful) days or evenings gathered with family and friends.

Either way, I like to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing.  There aren’t any super fancy parties on my schedule this year.  Just a couple of gatherings that are sure to include delicious food, conversations with people I love, and the normal fun and silliness that ensues whenever people get together.  So I decided to make a fun wrap top, that could also work as a cardigan.

The first step was choosing comfortable fabric.  I strongly considered using Phee Fabrics nylon/spandex Tricot.  It would be a great choice- it has a pretty drape, excellent recovery, and would give the top a more elegant look.  But in the end I went with Rayon Spandex for a softer, more cozy feel.  Because of the more substantial 13oz. weight, the drape is beautiful, and even the white isn’t sheer.

The Joanne Faux Wrap Dress & Top by Sinclair Patterns easily became an actual wrap top.  I love the fit of my Joanne dresses (blogged here), and knew that I wanted to make a top version.  With a little bit of customization, it was easy to make my vision come to life.  I wanted the peplum to be a bit longer than designed, so I traced the peplum front and back pieces on my size for width, and followed the lines for the largest size for the length.  Since Sinclair Patterns come in Petite, Regular, and Tall, all you may need to do is print the Regular or Tall version of the peplum pieces to get extra length.

bow

A true wrap top needs nice long ties.  I cut four pieces at 2-3/4″ high, by the 60″ width of the fabric.  I also cut strips of knit interfacing 2-1/4″ high, and ironed them onto the wrong side of two of the tie pieces.  After laying an interfaced and a non-interfaced tie piece right sides together, I trimmed one end at an angle.  I used the markings on my quilting ruler to get a perfect 30% angle, but you can use whatever angle looks good to you.  Then stitch along one long side, along the angled end, and back along the other long side using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  (I know the pattern uses a 1/4″ seam allowance, but my sewing machine prefers 3/8″!) 🙂  Turn the tie right sides out and press, and repeat with the second tie.  Do you want to know my trick for helping to push the long sides of the tie out in order to press them?  A yardstick!  It really made it easier to press and not worry that the fabric was still folded inward.  An interesting thought occurs to me.  If you live where the metric system is the common form of measurement, I suppose it’s not called a yardstick.  Is there such a thing as a meter-stick?  Go ahead and laugh, I might bother to google it later.  Or not.

The basic construction of the top is the same as the pattern tutorial, except the pleats, and the side seams.  Sew the shoulder seams together,  then sew on the neckband and top stitch.  Without overlapping the two front pieces, stitch the front and back bodice together at the sides, starting at the armscye, and stopping 2-1/4″ from the bottom.  Stitch the bottom 1/4″ of the seam.  Repeat with the other side seam.  Cut four pieces of interfacing 2-1/2″ long by 1/4″ wide.  Press the interfacing within the seam allowance of the bottom side seams of the bodice on the wrong side of the fabric.  This will help stabilize the open slits on the side seams when the seams are pressed open.  Press, then top stitch around the slits.

Insert the sleeves, being sure to put the back of the sleeve toward the back of your top.  (The pattern piece is clearly marked.)  Sew each peplum front and back together at the side seams, and attach the peplum to the bodice, leaving 1/4″ unsewn at either end of the seam.  This will allow you to turn the peplum under 1/4″ at the ends for a clean finish.  Now for the trickiest part of the top, the pleats.  Basically, you need to accordion fold 1″ wide sections, leaving the band at the top free, and leaving an extra 1/4″ at the bottom to fold under.  I kind of gently spread the folds a little bit, so that the folded section ends up two inches wide.  Baste.

wrap attach

With right sides together, pin just one layer of the tie to the basted bodice pleat.  You’ll have to carefully get your presser foot inside the end of the tie to stitch the tie to the bodice.  Clip your threads and flip the tie out.  Fold the raw edge of the tie under and pin it in place, being sure that it covers the seam line.  Then stitch in the ditch to secure the back side of the tie.  Repeat with the other tie.  Hem your sleeves and the peplum and your top is done!

Joanne wrap angle

I love that the long ties allow a bigger bow for an extra bit of drama.  I like that since it’s a true wrap, I can throw it on over a dress or top as a cardigan.  The extra length in the back gives me a little more coverage and looks great with a slim skirt.

Joanne wrap back

The high low look of the peplum just seems to dress it up a bit.  But being made out of soft rayon spandex, it would look just as great worn with some joggers.  No matter what I wear it with, it’s super comfortable, and is a great way to wrap up a holiday outfit.

Joanne wrap hair

In case you’re wondering, my skirt is the Shenanigans Skort by 5 out of 4 Patterns, made in Supplex.  This simple style, that’s just long enough, made in a stretchy, smoothing, moisture-wicking fabric is a comfortable basic for your wardrobe.

Have you wrapped up your holiday outfit?

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤

How I “Prettied Up” A Play Dress

I love sewing clothes for my granddaughter!  First of all, since she’s a growing toddler, she always needs clothes.  Secondly, since children’s clothes are small, they’re generally a pretty quick sew. 😉 And thirdly, they usually don’t take too much fabric.  Sometimes I can get away with using the larger leftover scraps of fabric from previous sews, which is what I was able to do here.

I bought a yard of the Cozy French Terry from Phee Fabrics to make Lila some joggers and a cardigan.  They turned out cute, and she wore them the day we flew up to visit.  I had a bit of the French Terry left, and thought a sweatshirt dress with a woven skirt would make a cute, comfortable play dress.  It turns out that I didn’t have enough French Terry for the sleeves, so I turned to my trusty rayon spandex for the sleeves and neck band.  Remember my Made By Rae Washi Dress blogged here?  There was just enough of the Art Gallery Fabrics 100% Premium Cotton left from my dress to make the skirt.

The Stitch Upon A Time Wendybird Dress (aff link) recently jumped into my cart the last time they had a pattern sale, so I couldn’t wait to print out the pattern.  Since there was only enough of the Art Gallery cotton left to make an 11″ long by 45″ wide rectangular skirt, I lengthened the Wendybird bodice by 2″.  Although the skirt fabric is a floral, it’s not in overly girly colors, so I decided to “pretty up” the dress by adding a ruffled placket.

To make the placket, I cut a 1-3/4″w x 4″h center base out of rayon spandex.  The two inner rayon spandex ruffles are 1-3/4″w x 8″h.  The two outer AGF cotton ruffles are 2-3/4″w x 8″h.  The center French Terry ruffle is 3/4″w x 5″h.

WB placket pieces

To make the double ruffles, fold the outer cotton ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Fold the inner rayon spandex ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Clip the corners, being careful to not cut through the stitching line, turn the ruffles right sides out and press.  Lay an inner ruffle on top of an outer ruffle with the cut sides and finished ends aligned.  Sew a long basting stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and pull the bobbin thread to gather the ruffles.  Repeat with the other double ruffle.

Fold the bottom edge of the center base under 1/4″ and baste or use Wash Away Wonder tape to keep the fold in place.  Lay a double ruffle on the center base right sides together, with the finished edge of the ruffle toward the bottom.  Stitch along the side with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Press the ruffle to the outside and repeat with the other double ruffle.

Next we add the center ruffle.  Because the French Terry won’t fray,  the edges are left raw.  Run a basting stitch down the middle of the center ruffle, and gather it to fit the placket base.  Keeping the center ruffle 3/8″ away from the top, zig zag down the center of the ruffle to stitch it in place.

Mark the center front of the bodice with a pin.  Use tailor’s chalk, or a washable fabric marker to mark the ruffle placket placement, which should be a rectangle 1″ wide by 4″ high.

WB mark

Line the ruffle placket up at the top of the neckline and with the markings, and top-stitch around the center base to secure it to the bodice.  Baste the unfinished edges of the double ruffles in place at the neckline.  Sew on the neckband as per the pattern directions, being sure to catch the top of the double ruffles and placket in the band.

WB placket

To make the skirt, cut two 11″h x 22-1/2″w (I would have preferred 12 or 13″ high, but that was all the fabric that I had!) panels out of the AGF cotton.  Place the panels right sides together and stitch along the side seams.  Press the bottom up 1/2″, and another 1/2″ and stitch the hem.  You can run a long basting stitch around the top of the skirt to gather it, but since it’s being sewn onto a knit bodice, I like using cotton swim elastic to gather.  Measure the bottom of the bodice, and cut the elastic to that length.  Overlap the ends of the elastic 3/4″ and zigzag to form a loop.  Use a pencil to mark the quarter points of the elastic.  Mark the centers of the skirt front and back, and they and the side seams will be the quarter points of the skirt.  Line up the quarter points of the elastic along the top of the skirt, and stretch the elastic to fit as you zigzag it in place.  It should gather the skirt to fit the bodice perfectly.

WB flat

With the skirt inside out, slide the bodice down inside the skirt, right sides together, matching side seams and center points.  Sew the bodice to the skirt, then give everything a good press.  Ta dah!  A simple play dress turns into a pretty, party-worthy dress!

Since Lila only recently turned two, she doesn’t attend a lot of parties.  But she is always ready to run and play outside, picking up sticks and leaves on her way to and from the park.

WB dress sticks

And I love that she is able to play outside in nature nearly every day.  I hope that she never forgets the joy and wonder of exploring, learning new things, and playing every day.

WB dress oh

WB dress up

When you’re done sewing, don’t forget to go for a walk, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  Maybe you’ll find some sticks to play with too! 🙂

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, designing, and creating. ❤

 

Sew Simple Tote Tutorial

Whether you’re participating in a Secret Santa or handmade holiday gift exchange, or just want a useful tote bag to have on hand, I’ve got a simple tutorial for you.  If you’re a bag maker, you probably already have some wonderful patterns.  But if you’re like me, and only randomly make bags when the need arises, this idea should work for you.

I was originally going to use an old McCall’s Crafts pattern I had in my stash.  But once I started digging through the tissue paper pattern, trying to find all of the pieces for the view I wanted to make, (with my cat batting at and biting the tissue paper) I decided it was easier to make up my own pattern!  Since all of the pieces are rectangles, if you use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter and mat, you don’t need actual pattern pieces.

The tote bag is designed to be reversible, with a row of pockets on both the inside and outer side.  You can use all the same fabric, two (or more) coordinating fabrics, or just use an accent fabric for certain pieces like I did.  Here are the measurements for all of the pieces you will need:

  • 4@ 12″h x 15″w for the side panels (you can make two of them in coordinates if you’d like)
  • 4@ 12″h x 5″w for the end panels (again, two can be coordinating fabric)
  • 2@ 5″ x 15″ for the bottom (one can be a coordinate)
  • 1@ 12″h x 15″w for the outer pocket
  • 1@ 11″h x 15″w for the shorter inner pocket
  • 4@ 2″ x 24″ for the straps (two can be coordinates)
  • You will also cut all of the above out of interfacing, (a heavier weight is better at stiffening the bag)

tote pieces Phee

I used Art Gallery Fabrics 100% premium cotton, (the AGF canvas would also work great!), and stretch twill that I purchased from Phee Fabrics.  This print is called Botanists Essay, and it is one of my favorite prints.  The stretch twill is actually navy, though it almost looks black in my photos.  I like the simple contrast of the solid twill against the floral print.

The first step is ironing the interfacing to the wrong side of all your pieces.  Of course I ran out of iron-on interfacing and instead had to baste regular interfacing to my pieces. 😦  Let’s just say that iron-on works better. 🙂

The next step is making the pockets.  Fold the pocket pieces in half, wrong sides together so that they are still 15″ wide.  Lay the outer pocket on top of one of the side panels, lining it up with the bottom and sides.  Baste the pocket to the side panel along the bottom and sides.  To form pockets, measure over 8″ from the left hand side and stitch, being sure to tack at the top of the pocket.  Measure 5-1/4″ from the right hand side and stitch, again tacking at the top of the pocket.  These pockets are sized to work great for your phone, a pen, your keys, etc.

draw out pock

The inner pockets are made in a similar way.  Lay the inner pocket on top of a side panel, lining it up with the sides and the bottom.  Baste the pocket to the side panel along the sides and bottom.  Measure 5-1/2″ from each side and stitch, tacking at the top of the pockets.  These pockets are sized to hold a notepad or tissues, and perhaps some gum or snacks!  Feel free to adjust the pocket sizes to suit your needs.

draw in pock

Now it’s time to assemble the tote bag.  Lay an end panel on the outer pocket side panel, right sides together and stitch along the side seam, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Then line up another side panel with the long unsewn side of the end panel, and stitch.  Then line up the other end panel on that side panel, and stitch.  Finally, line up the edges of the end panel and the pocket side panel and sew them together so that you end up with a rectangular tube.

To assist with sewing the bottom onto the tote, I like to mark the four corners 1/2″ from the edges on the wrong side of the fabric.  Line the bottom piece up with the bottom of one of the side panels ensuring that the 1/2″ markings line up with the seams, and that they are right sides together.  Stitch, being sure to back stitch at both ends.

tote bottom pins

Rotate the bottom so that one of the short sides lines up with the end panel, and stitch from one 1/2″ mark to the next.  The marks should line up with the seams.  Then rotate the bag again to line up the other long edge of the bottom with the other side panel, matching the 1/2″ marks and seams, and stitch.  Finally, rotate one last time to line up the final short side of the bottom with the final end panel, and stitch.  Clip the corners, being sure to not cut through the stitching line.

tote bottom sewn

Repeat this process of sewing the sides and ends together, then adding the bag bottom with the “lining” or inner side of the bag.  Then it’s time to make the bag straps.

tote straps

I used contrasting fabric so that one side of the straps are floral, and the other side is solid.  Place the two strap pieces right sides together, and stitch the two long sides.  Repeat with the other two strap pieces, and turn both straps right sides out.  Press and top stitch the long edges of the straps.  Measure 3″ from the seam on the side panels and pin an end of the strap in place, lining up the ends of the strap with the top of the bag.  Stitch each end of the strap in place, being sure not to twist the strap.  Repeat with the second strap on the other side panel.

tote sew layers

It’s finally time to sew the inner and outer layers together.  Turn one bag inside out.  Place the other bag inside of it, so that they are right sides are together.  Ensure that the straps are safely tucked between the two layers, and pin along the top of the bag.  Stitch along the top of the bag, leaving a 2-3″ opening so that you can turn the bag right side out.  Once the bag is right sides out, press and top-stitch along the top edge.

You’ve got a handy dandy tote with three pockets on the outside.

tote pockets full

And three pockets on the inside.  (Since it’s reversible, it can also be flipped so that the inner pockets are on the outside.)

tote reversed

 

To add stability to the bottom of the bag, I needed a hard thin piece of plastic to stick in the bottom of the tote.  Originally, I considered sewing a piece of plastic canvas between the two bottom layers.  Apparently my local craft store no longer carries plastic canvas, so that idea was out.  My husband came up with a solution when he mentioned that he had a couple of plastic lids in the garage that didn’t match any of the storage bins.   After moving and reorganizing the garage, he threw away the cracked and broken bins, but had kept the lids.  So I drew a 4″ x 14″ rectangle on one of the lids, and cut it out with some tin snips (my husband likes tools, and almost always has the proper tool for the job on hand!)  I sanded the cut edges to ensure that they were smooth, and slid the plastic in place at the bottom of the tote.

tote inner pockets full

The plastic insert can be removed and wiped clean, and the tote can be thrown in the washer and dryer in case of a spill.  I always wash and dry my fabric before sewing, so I never have to worry whether anything will shrink after making it.

And there you have it!  A simple tutorial and a new tote bag to use or gift.  Once you’ve sewn a tote, you can always personalize the size and shape and pocket formation of the next one to suit your needs.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, patterns, fabric, creating, and design. ❤