Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pattern Review: Brooke Dress

The AuthorLittle Lizard King
Pattern Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Fabric and Pattern
Fabric Choices:  Pink and Purple (cotton woven) (for 2 tops), Valentines prints (cotton woven) for 2 dresses, Tinkerbell and accent (cotton woven) for 1 dress

Why I chose this pattern:
I had one of my best friend's little girls had a birthday a couple week ago.  Since little girls all love spinning dresses and princesses, what better to make than a spinning skirt with princesses embroidered on it.  The only problem I have was I needed a top to match (not many people have princess tops laying around).  Thankfully I had the awesome Brooke Dress and top in my pattern stash.  Giving me the chance to not only make a wonderful birthday gift for this special little girl, but also to knock out my first sewing challenge for January.

What I disliked about the pattern:
There wasn't a lot I didn't like about the pattern.  However, if I had to pick a couple things;
-I would have liked to see more pictures of the different variations on this pattern, particularly in the sleeves.  -Personally I like more pictures with models showing off a finished pattern since it helps to inspire me with different fabric combinations etc.
-I also would have liked to have seen a casing option for the shorter sleeve, although that was easy enough to add on, so not a huge deal.

What I liked about the pattern:  
-I found the directions easy to follow and the pictures were very thorough and helpful.
-I was able to make my first top start to finish (including cutting) in 1 hour and 15 mins.  This time included reading through the new pattern, cutting, and sewing (with lots of stops for re-reading).  After the first top, I was able to go back and make another 3 dresses and 1 top in about 2-3 hours (including cutting).
-I loved the fact that with a yd of fabric I was able to make 2 tops or dresses, depending on the size.
-The sleeve options gave me very different looks and I LOVED that.  I was able to make a few short sleeve options for my friends here in FL, and some longer sleeved options for my friends in OR.  
-The pattern printed out wonderfully, giving me little opportunity for error.
-Since this is an e pattern, I was also able to save it to my hard drive and will be able to print it out over and over.
- It also have a very large size range, going from doll size (which you could use on a premie or infant) up to size 12.
- I found the sizing pretty true to store bought clothing as well.  I guessed my friends kids sizes based on their ages and sizes and the outfits fit wonderfully.
- This pattern was super fun to make and very, very versatile.

Dress Short Sleeve Option
Top Short Sleeve Option
<Brooke Top- Short sleeve option 4T (I bought 1 yd of these 2 fabrics which was enough to make a twirl skirt and this top, plus a couple of bows)

Brooke Dresses- Short Sleeve Option             >                                              
 (I bought 1 yd of each fabric and was able to make both dresses, plus have enough left over for either 1 more small dress, or multiple hairbows)                                                              
This is a very special Tinkerbell dress I made for a little princess that loves fairies.                                                                This dress was done with the 3/4 sleeve option 

Things I changed or improvised on:
Since this pattern was so versatile, there were a couple things I felt I could easily change, without really changing the spirit of the pattern.  For 1, I added a sleeve casing on the short sleeved options.  The pattern called for the elastic to just be sewn into the sleeve, leaving it exposed to the child's skin, personally I didn't like this, so I just folded over my "hem" 1 more time to make the casing.  This did take a little more fabric than I originally anticipated, especially on the smaller dress, since those sleeves are already so tiny.  Next time I will be sure to add a little to the length of the sleeves to make the casing a little easier to make.  I also sewed this together in a little bit of a different order than called for.  For instance, after cutting out the pieces, I sewed the boarder on first, then the sleeves, etc.  I also always press where my hem is going to be before I start sewing, it makes it MUCH easier to get the hem to come out mice and neat.  I did not use the allotted seam allowance (I used 3/8", out of habit), and I did serge all the seams.

Other changes I plan to make:
Next time I make this top/ dress I think I'm going to try a 3/4 sleeve and add a ruffle to the bottom of the sleeve and the top/ dress.  I'd like to see how that looks, I think it would make for some super cute dresses.

Would I make this pattern again?
I definitely plan to make this again.  At least 5 or 100 more times.  This is perfect for last minute birthday gifts, stash buster days, giveaways, baby showers, or even "pillow case" type dress drives.  I think these dress came out beautiful.  I only wish I had more pictures of all these pretty little girls wearing their dresses.  I'll edit and add them once I grab some pictures :)

Would you recommend this pattern to a beginner?
I definitely think this is a beginner pattern.  I plan to teach my 12 year old how to make it, since I feel it's just that simple.  This pattern had few pattern pieces, easy to follow directions, and was very simple to put together.  I feel anyone that can sew a straight stitch could easily do this.

I was not paid nor did I receive compensation of any kind to write this review.  This is a pattern I purchased for myself and decided to to a review on. The opinions within this post are solely those of the author.  If you have any questions or if there is something you would like me to add to the next review please jot me a note.   

The Challenge- Stash Attack!

After having a conversation with a friend we both decided we have too many untouched patterns and WAY too much fabric to go with them.  Personally, I could cloth my entire family (or a small village) for probably several years.  I have bolts of fabric.  I have bins of fabric.  I have shelves of fabric.  I have closets full of fabric.  And because I ran out of room I have a table COVERED in fabric.  I have fabric I bought to sell.  Fabric I bought to make things.  Fabric I bought and forgot.  I always have the best of intentions, but it just seems like at the end of the day, time has run out and I still have fabric.  

Patterns?  Well those aren't as obvious, since I only have 1 bin of those.  Now with this nifty new way to purchase patterns and have them emailed, most of them are on my computer, or printed and in a file drawer, binder or sitting in my cutting room just waiting to be sewn.  I have a much easier time purchasing patterns, since my husband never sees them, since they don't technically come into the house (at least they aren't delivered by the man in the black and purple shirt), they must therefore not exist.  I think if my husband ever found out the number of downloadable patterns I own, well we'll just leave it at it wouldn't be pretty.

My husband has grown accustomed to my small quirks and ummm obsessions.  The fact is I LOVE buying fabric and I LOVE buying patterns.  There really is no feeling like the one of the FedEx guy pulling up with boxes of fabric.  Opening the box to find an entire stash of bolts, colorful, bright, beautiful.  You mind races with thoughts of everything those pretty fabric will become, skirts, dresses, shirts, tops, the list goes on and on.  Things you could make, things you want to make and even things you need to make.  But the sad truth in my life is, more fabric comes in than ever gets sewn.  This has become quite a problem here in the last year or so as we gear up to finish some construction we put on hold while Phil was in school.  So now what to do with all this fabric and all these patterns.  

The simple answer was start sewing, but really I just can't force myself to sew, I just have too much going on. So as I discussed this with my friend and then with my Facebook group Me Time Sewing I found I wasn't alone.  Knowing it wasn't me just hoarding all the lovely fabric, that I wasn't the only one that didn't want to cut those beautiful prints, that others were as intimidated by the patterns and trying the new techniques they held as I was, was well, encouraging.  Then Megan challenged me.  In a side comment, just making a joke she said, "We should agree to sew 1 pattern every month until we've been through all our patterns".  Ok, hold on Megan, let's start small.  Let's try and go a year, then we'll talk a life time :) Thus The Challenge was born.  

I put the challenge to my group, challenging all of them, the way Megan challenged me.  Sew 1 pattern each month from your stash.  For extra credit try and ONLY use the fabrics you ALREADY have.  Soon we had a name for our project and people sewing.  We already have people (me included ;) that have sewn their February (before Feb even began!) projects.  We have people trying things they never thought they would get to try, and lots and lots of people there to help when we get stuck.  

The Challenge:
Each month for the next 12 months, sew 1 pattern out of your pattern stash.  Pick something you have been wanting to do forever or something you picked up last month.  But sew something.  Use fabric from your stash to complete the project.  At the end of the year, you should have at least 12 new projects and at least 12 less patterns you can say, I own it but never got to sew it.  So how about it?  Would you like to join us?  What will you sew today?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jean Skirt Conversion

This tutorial is to help you learn how to convert jeans into a skirt!  I have done several of these for my daughter, and we also did it as a youth group event.  We had a BLAST and the end product was amazing.  This can be used to make some very CHEAP very stylish skirts.  I bought all these jeans from a thrift store for cheap.  I even scored some Calvin Klien, GAP, and NICE Old Navy jeans.

 Step 1: Rip out the inseam on the pair of jean.

Step 2: Rip the seam 1/2 way between the zipper and the top of the inseam.  (You can also go all the way to the zipper if that will help the jeans lay correctly).  Repeat on the back, ripping just past where the back seam stops curving.  Usually right about or just above where the bottom of the pockets fall.  

Step 3: Cut the legs off to the length you would like the skirt, once the legs are cut off, you can rip the seam holding the pant legs together. 
I use a ruler to cut the legs off straight

The pant legs still together...

Seam ripping the pants legs apart

What they look like once they are seam ripped apart

*NOTE* Starting here you can go 1 of 2 ways.  You can either fill in the opening with the jean legs or with a different fabric.  We will start with the basic jean skirt and then work on the different options we have.  Follow the directions and mix and match to get the look you would like from here on out :)  Options will be denoted by being written in italics, while the basic pattern will be in regular print. 

Step 4: Fill in the jean gap with the jean legs you cut off
Placing the jean piece into the opening.  You can see at the top where I pinned down the pointy, curved edge where the crotch originally was.

Step 5 (options available): Now you must pin down the inner piece, including the piece from the crotch center to the zipper (or where you seam ripped).   (For option 1, different piece of fabric please skip down to option 1 directions)
Hopefully you can see the arrows pointing to the pins

I pinned this one so it flaps over, you can also pin it so the piece that curves to the L goes straight down, giving you less of a jeans converted to skirt look, and more of a jean skirt look.  If you prefer to have it go straight down, just fold the piece under and pink it straight down, making a nice triangle peak at the top of the opening. 

This is a picture from the back of the front panel pinned in

Step 6: Repeat in the back opening.

Back piece pinned in

Option 1: Piece of fabric instead of jean

Step 1: Measure fabric piece

Laying the fabric out under the jeans
You can see me actually measuring here

 Measuring the opening, after checking it against 

I always work from a square piece of fabric, so this is just me
measuring it out

Step 2: Pin the fabric pieces into the center openings 
(I pinned this one so it flaps over, you can also pin it so the piece that curves to the L goes straight down, giving you less of a jeans converted to skirt look, and more of a jean skirt look.  If you prefer to have it go straight down, just fold the piece under and pink it straight down, making a nice triangle peak at the top of the opening. )

Center panels all pinned in place

Basic Skirt
Step 7: Start sewing 
Sew in the front, then repeat for the back
I always start from the bottom of 1 of the sides, it helps hold
everything in place.  Make sure you have your extra piece nice and flat,
 it's easy to get it bunched up before sewing.

Sew down from the zipper around the curve and down 1 side of the opening

 I sew from the zipper, around the curve and then down the R side of the jeans.  (The top layer).  I follow the double stitch already visible from where the seam was pulled out. 

Finishing Touches: (Options Available)
Step 8: (Basic) Now all you need to do is hem up the bottom of the skirt.  I use a 1/2 hem here, folded under so as to hide all the raw edges. 
Finished Front

Finished Back

Finished and hanging,
sorry it was hanging a little crooked

Option 1: Bottom Ruffle
Step 1: Measure the skirt panels
Measure from 1 side seam to the other

 Measuring the front panel for the ruffle

Measure from the side seam, around the back of the skirt,
to the other side seam.  (You will have to curve your tape
measure to get an accurate measurement) 

 Close up of the measuring tape
Step 2: Measure and Cut the Fabric
You will need to decide how wide you want the ruffle (from top to bottom) and how "ruffly" you will want the ruffle.
Take front panel length and multiply it by something between 1.25- 1.5 (you could probably go to 1.75, but I haven't tried that ruffly yet :).  If you are doing a little girls skirt, I would go closer to 1.25" since the more ruffly the wider the ruffle piece needs to be in order to keep it from flipping up.  
I used 1.25 on this ruffle and 4" wide (which gave me a 1" hem and a 3" long finished ruffle)
Front Panel Math:
16.5 x 1.25= 20.625 (I rounded to 21") x 4" 

Back Panel Math:
31.25 x 1.25= 39.0625 (I rounded to 39") x 4"

Cut out the coordinating ruffle fabric, this will give you 2 pieces.  1 shorter and 1 longer, which will help your side seams match up.  

Step 3: Baste Hem into the Ruffle Panels
I do this before I sew anything.  I iron a 1" hem into the fabric pieces, at what will become the bottom.  This makes it much easier to sew in the hem once the ruffle panel is all sewn together.  

Step 4: Prepare the Ruffle 

Stitch short raw edges together on either edge.  This will give you a circle piece of fabric.

Sew down the hem, it is easiest to do it do it at this stage.  This will leave you with a circle piece of fabric, larger than your skirt bottom, with a hemmed bottom edge.    Fold over at the ironed section then fold the raw edge under. 

Place the basting stitch to form the ruffle.  Set your machine with the longest stitch length and the widest stitch width.  Sew along the top of the panel at 3/8" and 1/4" (placing 2 rows of stitches will be beneficial if 1 of them breaks while pulling up the ruffle).  Stitch only on the panel, from 1 side seam to the other side seam (NOT all the way around).  This will actually give you 4 sets of stitches.  
Step 5: Create and Sew on the Ruffle

 Pin the side seams of the ruffle panels to the side seam of the skirt.  (I always pin on either side of the side seam)

 Pull the basting stitch to gather the fabric up.  (I always work on the front panel and then the back).  Evenly distribute the ruffles through the panel, then pin in place.
                                                       Close up of pinning after the ruffle has been distributed 

Stitch the ruffle down, using a 3/8-5/8 seam allowance, pulling out the pins as you go.  Then pull the basting stitches.

Step 6: Iron the Ruffle down, then topstitch right below the seam where the ruffle is attached.


The Finished Product :) 

Option 2: Double Ruffle
(Sorry I don't have any pictures of this one yet, I'm still finishing the skirt :) 
This will be the same as the making a ruffle option, except you will be adding a 2nd layer of ruffles.  
Step 1: Follow steps 1-6.  Making these small adjustments.
(Step 2) When calculating your ruffle measurements, you will want to cut 4 panels, 2 of the panels will be 1-3 inches longer and sit underneath a shorter top layer.  Giving the skirt a layered look. 

Your math will look like this:
Bottom Layer:
Front panel:
16.5" x 1.25"= 20.625 (rounded to 21") x 6" wide
Back panel:
31.25" x 1.25"= 39.0625 (rounded to 39") x 6" wide

Top Layer: (you will use the bottom layer measurements to figure these)
Front panel:
31" x 1.25= 38.75 (I rounded to 39") x 4" wide
Back panel:
39" x 1.25= 48.75 (I rounded to 49") x 4" wide

Sew the ruffle pieces together as in step #3 (sewing the side seams together, leaving you with 2 circle pieces), and hem the bottom of the top and bottom layers.  Place basting stitches in the top layer, and gather the fabric as explained in step #5, then remove the basting stitches

Now, place your basting stitches through the top and bottom layers.  Then attach the double ruffle to the skirt as outlined in steps 5 and 6 above.  

Option 3: Flat Band
(Sorry there are not more pictures for this one)

Step 1: Follow Step 1 to measure for the band panels.

Step 2: Cut the Fabric
*Remember to add 5/8" to both sides of the fabric measurement to make sure the band will fit properly after you seam it together.*
Cut 2 panels of fabric for the band.  Cut 1 the length of the front panel by the width you are looking for (remember to include the hem you would like, I normally add 1", as I find it easy to work with).  Cut the 2nd the length of the back panel by the width.  This is basically the same as cutting for the ruffle, except you won't need to do large amounts of math :)  For instance, given the previous skirt I would have cut a 17.75 x 4" piece and a 32.5 x 4" piece.

 Step 3: See step 3 for option 1

Step 4: Sew the side seams of the band together.  (This is much like the ruffle, except you will not need to add in the basting stitches, as you won't be doing any gathering).  Then stitch the hem into the band.

Step 5: Place the band with the right side facing the right side of the skirt.  Stitch down with a 5/8" seam.  

Step 6: Iron band down and topstitch the band right below the seam attaching it to the skirt. 

The Finished Product

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.  I hope to have more coming out :)  I will be altering/ updating this one as I finish more pictures to make some of these steps clearer.  (Particularly for the options I don't have lots of pictures of)  If there is something you want to see up close or if you have any questions please let me know :)