Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rockin' Romper Tutorial

I have never done a tutorial.

I leave that to the Real Craft Bloggers, the gals who sew beautifully and take gorgeous pictures all while engaging their little ones in happy, stimulative play. 

That said, I was asked for a how-to on the Vintage Linen Romper  (Which I have now renamed the Rockin' Romper because it's got some attitude and because I like alliteration. I am dorky like that). My camera doesn't exactly like me or the light in my dining room, where I sew, so these pictures aren't pretty. The threads aren't even clipped in most of them, because I was trying to see how much of it I could finish while the older girls were out swimming. 

But if you can stumble through the bad photos and the sometimes awkward directions, you can have yourself a cute summer romper in no time.

As I mentioned in my sewalong post, this was the result of failed toddler shorts. I didn't exactly set out to make a baby romper until I held the shorts up to my daughter and thought hey, that might work.....

The simplest way to describe the romper design is that it is a a too-big pair of bloomers with elastic straps and ruffles. For my eight month old (who still can fit most 3-6 month clothes) I used a 12-18 month size bloomer pattern.) It's that easy. If that's all the information you need to go dig through your pattern stash and start experimenting, go for it, you super seamstress you.

If you are scratching your head, hold on. I'll try to go into more detail. 
This tutorial is for a 0-3 month baby but you can upsize it for older babies. I also chose not to do snaps because I wanted a quick-sew and because the version of the romper I made for Tiny Girl comes off and on easily because of the elastic straps.

The Rockin' Romper

What You'll Need

Fabric: ½ yard should do it
Elastic-- I used ½ inch for the chest and legs and ¼ inch for the ruffle straps.
Paper and marker for drafting
Tape Measure
Optional: newborn onesie for guidance or cute baby for measuring. I didn't have a cute infant so I had to go with the onesie.

Step One: Draft The Cut-out

Don't be scared! This is friendly drafting.

Take your paper and measure a 3 “ horizontal line.

Starting at the right hand end of that line, draw a vertical line 7”down from the top line.

Now you'll mark the points for your curve.
I am horrible at drawing, so I give myself lots of points to help me stay on track.

Once you have something that looks reasonably like a bloomer cutout, grab your scissors and cut along your line.

Yay! You have drafted your own pattern piece.

Step Two: Cutting The Fabric

Pieces required:
Romper body: Two pieces 10.5” l by 17.5 “ wide
Straps: Two pieces 9.75 inches long by 2.5” wide
Ruffles: Up to you! I chose to use some ruffle-edged ribbon I had in my scrap stash, which was 1.5” wide, and I cut it 17.5” long. You can play around with the dimensions depending on how many layers of ruffles you want and how ruffle-y you want it to be.

Position your body pieces so that the 10.5” edge is at the top and the 17.5” edge is on the side and fold them right sides together. Align your cutout so that the straight edge lines up with the side edge of your body piece. Make sure you don't place it on the side with the fold :)

Cut along cutout.

You can cut your straps and ruffles now too or you can hop right to sewing

Step Three: Sewing

Romper Body

  Sew the legs together.

Finish the edges according to your preference. I like zig-zagging.

Turn one leg inside out and place it right-side-together inside the other leg, lining up the seams.

Pin around the crotch curve.

Sew together.

Finish seams.

You could turn it right-side out now or leave it wrong-side out and head to your ironing board.
Iron the elastic casings for the chest and legs. I just eyeballed it at a little more than .5 inches but not quite 1”. So maybe I should say .75” ? 

Pin your casings in place and sew them, leaving a space for you to insert the elastic later. You've reached Romper Stage One! Right now it looks like a pair of shorts....


Gather your ruffle strips. You can find great tutorials on gathering here and here.
I only used one strip for this version of the romper.
I used my onesies as a guide for where to place the ruffles....

After you have sewn your gathering stitch, pin it to the romper, one end to each side. 

Tug on the long threads gently to gather, then pin in place and sew down.

You've made it to Romper Stage Two! It's getting cuter by the minute


Now it's time to cut and insert your elastic. I used my newborn onesie as a guide and cut the chest piece 15” and each of the leg elastics 8.5”.

 Using a safety pin, thread elastic through casing, being careful not to twist. Sew ends together. You can choose to sew the casing shut or leave it open in case the fit of the elastic needs to be adjusted once you try it on the baby.

You're almost there!
Yes, they still look like oversized bloomers.
Let's put on the straps so we'll be done :)


Fold your straps right side together and sew along the long raw edge.
Leave each short end open.

Turn right side out.

Create a channel for your elastic by sewing two straight lines down the center of your strap. You'll want it wide enough to actually fit your elastic through. I made mine a bit small and had to go to plan B, which was to insert it through a side casing created by one of the sewn lines. This changed the look of the straps. If you want ruffles on both sides, the elastic should definitely go down the center.

Mama Sewing Moment: At this point I was distracted because I was trying to keep the eight month old happy long enough for me to sew the straps in and be done. :) I sewed mine to the back by mistake, so for the romper you'll see in the rest of these pictures, the ruffle is in the front. Yours will be the back. Unless you want it in the front too....there are really no rules here.

Once you've sewed the straps in the front, bring them to the back at an angle so that the ends meet under the center back seam. Sew in place.

You are done!

I didn't have an infant handy, so if you make this and the sizing turns out to be horrible, please let me know and we'll tweak it. In fact, any and all ideas on how to make this tutorial better are welcome, in case I should ever attempt another.

Now go find a baby who needs cute, comfy summer wear :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Project Run and Play Sewalong: Sportswear

This week's challenge at Project Run and Play was Sportswear.
I was very inspired by the old fashioned idea of sportswear, especially the use of linen. I wanted to make something in homage to that without doing an exact recreation. My three goals for this challenge were.....

  • showcase linen
  • choose colors outside my normal comfort zone for girls
  • embroider!

Confession: I wanted to make an awesomely retro boys outfit inspired by Ned Land of Disney's classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. I imagined a fitted striped tee with grey linen shorts suitable embellished with sea monsters. 

I do not have a boy. I could have borrowed one, but he wasn't available for fittings and I was a bit crazy to tackle sewing boys clothes without any patterns. (Also I blame cold medication). Needless to say, the grey linen shorts were a failure. Sorry Ned!

I did, however, salvage the wreck and made this....

It's a simple little romper for Tiny Girl to wear out and about now that we've already had our first wave of 90 degree weather. In April. Gotta love the south. I used the failed shorts as the body then added elastic straps and a generous helping of ruffles. And embroidered flowers.


I also made a headscarf from some gorgeous yellow and white strip knit I found at The Fabric Fairy.

....one of many escape attempts.....

This was a fun project. I've never done a romper before since I hate snaps but since the straps were elastic this baby is easy-peasy to get on and off. (Which to me is kind of the point of sportswear, or kids clothes in general) My favorite part was the embroidery, which I hadn't done for years. I used to stitch while I manned the phones at my pre-baby job because it made me nicer to customers. I could tolerate much more complaining if my hands were busy with bright, beautiful thread. That was my gateway drug to the whole crafting world. I also think handwork gives mama-made clothes a little something extra. I can look at my three happy flowers and think of the beautiful afternoon I embroidered on the porch with my two year old blowing bubbles and my five year old running all over the yard.

 As always, there are many other cute and create sewalong projects on the Run and Play Flickr Group. I can't wait till Friday when we see what the Actual Contestants have been sewing.
Update: I have had a couple requests for a how-to so I decided to take the plunge, even though I've never done a tutorial before. You can find the tutorial here

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a poem for my littlest one


I named you
for a little bird,
and so you are.
Chirping and peeping
over my shoulder
through these flightless days.

O do not hear the wind
when it whispers to your wings.
Let's duck out of the breeze
for sleep-still pools of sun.
Do not listen yet.
Stay awhile with me.

I have watched
(and ached) and marveled
as your sisters shook
their feathers and flew
in the ever widening circle
that will one day
stretch beyond my skies.

You will circle with them.

But today 
do not hear the wind
Perch a while on my back.
Sing a song into my morning.
Sleep a night in my arms.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Project Run and Play Sewalong: Circle Skirt Remix

Project Run and Play has started! Hooray!
Even though I didn't make the cut to compete officially, I'm excited about the sew-alongs. They offer a chance to stretch my creativity and learn new sewing skills and who can argue with that?

This week's challenge was a remix of the Circle Skirt Tutorial over at made.
I can't wait to see what the contestants have come up with, and what I've seen from the sew-alongers isn't too shabby either. I decided to go opposite my instincts and do something that was neither super-twirly or super-ruffly. Big Girl has been needing new play items, so I decided to do a half-circle play skirt. The inspiration came from some beautiful, ultra-drapey red and cream dot knit fabric I scored from a thrift store t-shirt. The Run and Play refashioning challenge isn't for a couple weeks yet but these days I've been a bit obsessed with thrift-store fabric repurposing. Where else can I get awesomely cute polka dot fabric for $1?

This week is Big Girl's spring break so we haven't had time for much sewing or much luck convincing her to stand in one spot for pictures. I managed to grab a couple this afternoon.

 This was a quick sew, especially since I chose to leave the knit edge on the bottom unfinished as part of the whole climb-trees-fight-pirates aesthetic that goes into her playclothes. I have no doubt I will make her at least one or two more of these, probably in stripes. And possible one in patchwork panels. This pattern is every bit as addicting as the tutorial warns us. 

To check out the other fantastic circle skirt remixes, head over to the Run and Play Flickr group and don't forget to check in tomorrow for the contestants' designs.