It is party season in the Smith Household. My girls birthdays are two weeks apart. My youngest just turned one, and my eldest just turned three. Their cousins’ birthdays are also around this time (one was back at the beginning of May, the other is between my girls) which means lots of birthday sewing.
This year I decided to make my nieces unicorn Boho Babydolls in a tunic length by Patterns for Pirates and Bonny Leggings by Made for Mermaids. I have blogged about the Bonny Leggings pattern (as well as the Peg Leg pattern and Petite Peg Leg patterns which covers the different size ranges) before here. I made for them the same two patterns last year, but I used different fabrics. I also made the Me Hearties in a dress length by Patterns for Pirates for my girls.
The fabric I picked was Circus Unicorns Cotton Spandex Jersey Knit from The Fabric Snob The Circus Unicorns was from a preorder they had run. I bought it after they put the leftovers up for retail, but when it sells out, it sells out, So I don’t know how much longer it will be available. I also used Light Pink 10 oz Cotton/ Spandex Jersey knit and Raisin Tencel Organic Cotton Spandex Jersey. It was my first time working with the Tencel. It is a new environmentally friendlier base they have recently started carrying. I LOVE IT!!!! It is so incredibly soft! I definitely want to get more of it!!!
When I ordered the fabric for my nieces’ outfits I hadn’t decided what I was going to do for my girls. I bought enough fabric to do the Boho babydolls out of the Circus Unicorns and shorts for my pink loving niece out of the light pink and extra purple so that I could try to make myself a shirt out of the Tencel as well as the shorts for my purple loving niece. When I finally decided that I wanted to do a Unicorn theme for the party I decided to see if I could squeeze the bodices of the dresses for my girls out of the Circus Unicorns too.
I took the fabric up to my parents’ house and enlisted my mother’s help for the cutting process in the hopes that my mom could help me fit everything I wanted on the Circus Unicorns. Luckily since my girls are so small we managed (well let’s be honest, my mom did most of the jigsawing) to squeeze the bodices of the dresses out of the Unicorns as well as the Boho babydolls. The one alteration we made to make everything fit was we took a half inch out of the middle of the gathered skirt of the Boho babydoll and instead of a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the skirt portion I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance instead. This gave us just enough wiggle room that we could fit everything we needed out of the Circus Unicorns and I did the neck bands out of the purple/ pink which also helps differentiate the shirts so they can easily know who’s is who’s (they are fairly close in size). For the skirt portion of my girls dresses I used the purple and I think I still have enough to make myself a shirt.
The Boho Babydoll pattern was one of the first patterns that I made but it does have a few challenges, namely gathers and a curved hem. I didn’t even bother trying to hem the shirts before the party as I was running crazy behind (as in was still in my pjs mixing cake batter when the first guests arrived, but I was determined to have the girl’s shirts done before the party).
The gathers were driving me bonkers. As per the pattern instructions you run two lines of basting stitches (a long straight stitch that is just temporary) you then pull the bobbin thread and the fabric gathers. Well I randomly ran out of bobbin thread on both shirts and had to redo a section of the basting stitch (which lead to me forgetting about it and just pulling out the stitching rather than gathering everything) and my threads kept breaking! It was very frustrating. It took me about 30 minutes just to do that step on the first shirt! When I got to the second shirt I gave up on that method and decided to try the method my mom taught me. You have to be a bit more precise with your initial stitching but it ends up being easier in the end.
For this method you need dental floss. Yes, dental floss! You set your sewing machine up on a long wide zig zag and stitch overtop of the dental floss being very careful not to stitch through the dental floss. Make sure you leave a big tail at the start and the end so you can tie your ends together so you don’t accidentally pull the floss out the other side (I did that, I just took a sewing needle and weaved it back through). Then you pull the ends, even out your gathers and either baste the gathers in place so you can make sure they are even, or throw caution to the wind and attach the skirt section to the bodice!
I will in the future actually hem the shirts but hemming is not strictly necessary with knit fabrics (it won’t unravel in the wash) it just looks better. When hemming a curve it can get rather annoying as the fabric comes up on an angle. What I prefer doing is pinning as I go. I will press up a couple inches, pin, then move onto the next couple inches. Then when I get to the end I take it to my coverstitch (you can also use your sewing machine if you don’t have a coverstitch) and take the pins out as I sew the hem.
The Me Hearties dress pattern is much easier. It has a few bodice options. You can colour block the bodice or do a lace overlay, or just do a plain bodice. So far I have just done the regular bodice but I’m hoping to try out the lace overlay for my daughters’ Christmas dresses this year. The Me Hearties pattern has 3 options for sleeves: short, 3/4 and long. I did short sleeves for their birthday dresses as they are both summer babies and long sleeves for their Christmas dresses. There are 3 ways to bind the neckline and sleeves included in the pattern. You can choose from knit binding, fold over elastic or stretch trim. I used knit binding for the neckline and was lazy and just hemmed the sleeves. One of the things I love about the Me Hearties pattern is the circle skirt. My 3 year old LOVES the twirl factor in the circle skirt! She will spin and spin and watch the skirt fan out! You can make this pattern as a dress or a peplum. I’m not sure if I will bother hemming these dresses this time around, I didn’t for their Christmas dresses. I might at a later date.
I am so happy with how the girls’ birthday outfits came out! I love making special outfits for my girls and my nieces!