October 17, 2011

To spoil you all...

OK, you aren't really getting spoiled except in that you'll be disappointed tomorrow when there's no post ;) (maybe... I'm totally on a "blog when I feel like it" streak - this, for example, was not a planned post)

I realized that with my maternity fashions impromptu series (no, I haven't made the last dress or the "hybrid pants" yet...) I haven't updated on all the other goodies I HAVE completed.

For example... the crib is done. I didn't get a 2nd coat of paint on it like I'd hoped, but the fumes got to be too much, and it looked good and so we're finished with it. It looks PRETTY MUCH the same as when I got it instead of a darker shade (oh well... maybe next time), but it's "freshly sealed" and DONE. And built. And in the nursery :-D

The furniture isn't being touched. Baby will not care, and at the moment... mommy doesn't either. So it's now full of freshly washed baby clothes and toys and other baby goodies. Maybe I'll get around to nagging hubby to fix two drawers. We have all the supplies... it'll just take 5 minutes to pull the broken drawer stays off and put new ones on.

The bumper front has been finished!! Due to an illness in the family of the friend that's helping me with the inside, the embroidery isn't (feel free to say a prayer for her and her family in the mean time), but THE BUMPER FRONT IS FINISHED! And it's adorable and I <3 it.

The quilt is done except for a bunch of hand-stitching-on of leaves and the detail embroidery to match the bumper, which my over-fluid-filled-hands are not happy about, so we'll see what happens there.

My port-a-crib sheet I was so anxious and eager to finish is DONE and I'm excited that I can TOTALLY make another from the flannel I have left over! I also got another yard and a half for a third sheet. If I'm feeling adventurous, you might get my "how to" but if I'm lazy... this is the link to the how-to I used (with new dimensions and math and such for my crib pad): http://www.prudentbaby.com/2011/01/crib-sheet-tutorial-part-2.html (except... instead of making casing for the elastic... I just zig-zagged it to the edge of the sheet as tightly as I could. MAYBE I'll try this "casing" thing next time... we'll see. I probably should... it'll hold up much better I imagine.)

The cute "leftover fabric" burp cloths haven't been started yet, but I did get a bunch of pre-fold diapers, so that's been sent to the VERY BOTTOM of the priority list 0:-P

Hubby's scarf was completed, and even BLOCKED!! Except I gave it to him before taking a photo and I haven't seen it since, so you'll just have to believe me when I say it's "just what he wanted" and that it must be at work (and took exactly one skein of yarn).

And the Thank You Cards were made!! (Before I hand-sewed the quilt obviously, but it shouldn't look different post-sewing, so it's good enough)

Yay!! I am no longer neurotic about getting anything else completed, because all the "majorly important projects" that I NEEDED to have finished... are done (or I've just succumbed to the fact that they didn't NEED to be finished). Not to say I still don't have a laundry list of "to-do's"... I'm just not being neurotic about completing them 0:-P

Off to play some more and make some napkins for a friend :-P


October 15, 2011

Sometimes, I'm a GENIUS!! - Boppy Cover Tutorial

So tonight (which isn't really tonight, because I've got like, 2 weeks of "how-to's" that will post before this, but work with me) I put together a Boppy cover, and I feel SUPER SMART in how I did it. I know it's not new (in fact, I remember searching for, and finding explanations of how to do this on the internets a while ago, but the links are apparently "evil" so I won't put them here - I probably got some kind of virus visiting it, but whatever) but what I DO think I figured out on my own... was that a standard towel is the PERFECT size (and I'd imagine material!) to make a Boppy cover out of!

A new baby girl entered our family (no, not my baby girl... another one) and I wanted to make her mommy a boppy cover. But I kinda ran out of time to get nice fabric... so I looked at the store and was like "meh. I don't LIKE these :-/. I wanted to MAKE her one!!" and then, the genius button got hit - what if I made it out of a towel?

So I marched myself over to the towel section, picked up a regular pink towel, and marched myself out of the store. I then turned my original Boppy cover inside out, and folded it in half, and traced it onto a piece of freezer paper - my favorite method of pattern making.

I had already decided to use overlapping flaps to keep it "on" instead of a zipper or Velcro or buttons or whatever other methods are out there to keep a Boppy on it's pillow, and that's where I felt so genius - I could use the ends of the towels as the flap bits! (Oh, and the towel is absorbent, so you don't have to worry about the spit-up that will inevitably end up on this nursing pillow.

So I traced  out the portions I needed for the "back" onto the edges of a folded towel, and a "whole piece" out of the middle, as well as a 26"x3" strip for the inside of the pillow, and then cut them out.

Now, since it's terry, I felt like it was a good idea to "overlock" the edges - so all the edges got a zig-zag stitch overhanging the edge. It made a lot of terry dust, which leads me to believe that was a smart move.

Once you've got your pieces cut and "serged", take your strip and pin it to the "front" piece, and sew it in place. Then pin it to the bottom back piece, and sew it in place - make sure "right sides are together" for this, because even though it's a towel, there's a tag on there SOMEWHERE.

Here's where I made a boo-boo, but that means you won't. Lay the top back piece down and make sure the edge of the towel is straight across the front. Then lay the bottom back piece down (all right-sides together) so that it LOOKS like a Boppy cover, and pin ALL THE WAY AROUND.

Sew that sucker up from edge to edge, folding the strip in half to start - you'll hit 3 layers of terry where the overlap is, but my machine didn't complain too much, and I definitely wasn't taking it slow. I DID lock stitches over the joints of the pocket... just for extra protection.

Ta-da! Turn that sucker inside out, slide your Boppy in, and pull the top piece over and you're done!

The making of the pattern (which I will hopefully add to this post someday), "serging", "oops"ing of the layout involving seam rippers, AND taking all the photos took me about an hour and a half. I was NOT careful in the serging process... my machine was a humming, but it came out nice! I could have sewn with slightly larger seam allowances, but I was being "safe" there. The pattern allowed for 1/2" seam allowances, and I was just shy, but it fits, and it's good enough for government work! ;)

So go ahead and make a Boppy cover out of an old towel, or a cheap towel, or a fancy towel, or just some fabric. It's much easier than it looks!


October 14, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Shirred Waist Tank Dress

This was my "really hopeful" dress, that didn't turn out well enough for me to really wear in public, but knowing what I learned from it, it might be useful for some adventurous soul out there!! For now, it's the last of the Maternity Fashion series (I can't believe I've got nearly 2 weeks of posts here!!) although there is one more dress I keep MEANING to try... so maybe I'll get to making it, photographing myself in it, and actually posting it before I'm not pregnant anymore! There's also the "hybrid pant" I should probably make myself too...

Anyway... this was a test run for a maxi-dress that never really happened. It started as a major experiment (that failed too miserably to share) and turned into a fabulous dress to beat around the house with and was SUPER cool this summer!!

Things to note that would have made this a success:
1) No matter how many rows of shirring you use... your fabric will only shrink by half.
2) Make the finished shirred measurement slightly SMALLER than you are around so it fits snugly where you want it to.

This top is almost the same as the top I used for the cowl-neck dress, except that it isn't cowled! It has a high neck in the back, and a scooped neck in the front, with 2 layers of knit for each, sewn together at the neck and arm-holes and turned inside out for finished neck and arm edges (use a stretch stitch for those). To form the shoulders, I turned the back inside out, and pulled the front through until the raw edges met, then sewed straight across with a straight stitch. then I pulled the back right-side-out again, lined up "right sides together" and straight-stitched the side seams of the bodice. You can use a well-fitting tee for the pattern if you have one.

For the skirt, I SHOULD have measured my rib-cage measurement (or the bodice measurement) and multiplied by 1.75, and then made a giant rectangle that width and the length I wanted the skirt (plus an inch for a finished edge, which I do like on this dress) and THEN shirred it. There are plenty of tutorials on-line for shirring fabric, but the basic run-down, is to hand-wind a bobbin with elastic thread, and sew straight lines across your fabric in a few rows (at least 4). When you're done shirring the skirt top, turn the bodice inside out, insert the skirt so all the raw edges are together, and using a stretch stitch, attach them.  It's a good idea here to "overlock" (with a serger, a stitch and cut foot, or just a zig-zag over the edge) that seam so that it lies nicely after washing ;).

Then hem the bottom! You can use a stretch stitch, a double needle, or just straight stitch it, since it's a wide-based skirt.

You can PROBABLY make this dress in cotton vs. a knit too! To make it so you can pull it over your head, add an extra 3"? to the back panel, and before sewing it to the skirt, shirr 6" in rows down the middle - you'll get a shirred detail on the back, and give yourself some "give" room to pull it over your shoulders!

This type of dress can be made for little ones too - and if you want a better pattern, find a tank made of about the same material as you plan on working with and use it to build a bodice!


October 13, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Cowl Neck Maxi Dress

I had a wedding to go to at 14 weeks pregnant. I had no idea how big I was going to be, and seeing as I popped at 12 weeks, I was concerned I might balloon!!  So I made this dress, which fit VERY differently at 14 weeks than it does at nearly 33 weeks! BUT, it does prove that this dress will take me all the way to the end of my pregnancy!

The best part? I've gotten multiple complements on it, my bra doesn't show AT ALL, and it was "fancy" enough to go to a wedding in!  I'm not normally a fan of "cowl necks" but making this one myself, and in the manner that I did it, I like this one. This is a "crud, I need to look presentable and FAST" dress... throw it on, and go!  Hopefully I'll be able to explain the process a little. There was MUCH experimentation in making the top here, and no photos taken 20 weeks ago, so we'll see!

I started with a regular tank. High neck in the back (x2 pieces) and a low neck in the front. The cowl is actually a large trapezoid.I determined the width of the top of the trapezoid by holding the fabric up to my shoulders to form the "drape" I wanted and added 3" to each side for the shoulder straps and seam allowances. The bottom of the trapezoid was matched to the width of the front tank piece so they would align correctly. The height was the distance from my ribcage to the top of my shoulder, which was 13" (I think).

Now, the trick for me being happy with the cowl, was to sew the raw edge of the top of the cowl, to the neckline of the front portion of the tank. That means that the raw edges of the fabric are tucked inside, and can't "pop out" and turn your cowl inside out, OR show more cleavage than intended. The shoulders were... finessed into being, involving a weird kind of fold. I should have taken pictures, and I'm not sure I'd be able to repeat the process!!

Needless to say, once I got the bodice the way I liked it, I attached it to an overly full skirt. Two pieces of fabric, the width of the bolt were sewn into a tube and gathered with a basting stitch to match the "around" of the bodice. With right sides facing together, a wide seam allowance was sewn, and then a narrow one to make a casing for elastic. I had to make this elastic MUCH shorter than anticipated, due to the weight of the skirt! (I was actually worried about the skirt being about 3" too short, but the weight of the fabric just HANGING grew it to just at my ankle! Such a happy accident!  As with most of my knit projects, the bottom of the skirt is unfinished, but it's OK, because knit is wonderful!

I do apologize for this being a very poor "how to" but take confidence in the fact that it was made out of a VERY flowy knit, and with all the folds and gathering bits, I was able to make it without ANY pre-made pattern!  I am by NO MEANS a seamstress - the only sewing instruction I've ever received was from my mom at age 7, a little tip here and there from Grandma... and 7th grade home-ec!  It might look a little "homemade" but it's still totally acceptable for public wear! It's been a church staple since that wedding, and I've even gotten compliments on it!

Don't be afraid of knit - just remember to use a stretch stitch where it needs to stretch!


October 12, 2011

Maternity Fashions: Kimono Tunic

Yesterday, I posted about turning a Kimono Tee Pattern from BurdaStyle into a ruched tee, and today, I'll explain how I turned that same pattern into this tunic! (This is NOT a pattern, or really a tutorial. You'll need your own set of sewing skills and experimentation gusto to make this top!)

(yes, I normally wear stretch pants with this top, 
but I was being lazy and "just getting the photos taken." 
That's as little "leg" as I could manage for you!)

This top is a little more complicated than yesterday's, but JUST as comfy!!  There's two ways to make this, and I'll explain the way I did it... and then the way I'd do it if I was to do it again. 

Using the same $2.00/yd knit from the value bin at Hancock Fabrics, it's actually THREE pieces of fabric... the bodice, the front of the body and the back of the body. You'll also need a length of 1/4" elastic that fits snugly around your bust line.

The bodice is made just like the Kimono Tee's, but it stops about 1" below the "arms."

The bodice has identical front and back pieces, that start at the same width as the bottom of the bodice, and move out in an a-line to your final wanted width. You'll want to make sure you have PLENTY of room for a growing belly and tushy (Ideally 1.5 times your widest measurement) The length is measured from your bust-line to where you'd like it to hit your legs, plus 1 inch.

Sew the a-line pieces into a tube, and turn it inside out. Then sew the tube to the bodice (right sides facing) with a 3/4" seam allowance all the way around, and then again at 1/4" seam allowance from the edge but NOT all the way around... leave about 2" unsewn. You've just sewn a casing for your elastic!!  

Now, when putting elastic in, make sure you "try on" the elastic so that it fits you snugly, but not uncomfortably, or too loose. Thread it through the "mini tube" of fabric and stitch the sides together, and then finish stitching the casing closed. Essentially, you are done now, but I did a few little "extras."  

The first, was to make sure the elastic gathered more fabric in the tummy area than in the back, so I tacked a few stitches through the casing so there was more fabric in the front than the back and the elastic wouldn't spin.

The second was probably more "important" - adding some fabric flowers to the front. Not only did this help me figure out which was front and back (since I tacked the fabric, it now HAD a front and back), but it makes it look "finished". One was a twisted flower - a thin strip of the knit fabric twisted and stitched as I went until it was about an inch and a half wide. And a "quarter fold" flower. The same knit cut with pinking shears in VERY not-circular circles. The wonkier, the better actually!  4 large circles, and 4 small circles were cut, and then folded in quarters so there were a bunch of layers, and then arranged in a circle and sewn together. To give it some dimension, when stitching it to the neck of the tunic, I put a stitch through the top layers of the smaller flowers. 

Play, have fun! Try your own version of flowers, or different fabrics!

Now, if you haven't already tried making something out of your fabric, and are not piecing this together from what you have left... when you cut out your bodice, just extend it as long as you'd like it to be +1" and put a HEAVY a-line in below the arms. Then fold so that "right sides face" at the bust line, and sew at 1/2" seam allowance to make a pocket for your elastic, leaving a 2" gap. Then thread your elastic and finish sewing up your casing. Ta-da!! Much easier. :)

October 11, 2011

Maternity Fashions: "Ruched" Shirt

This shirt is actually a mistake. A SUPER COMFORTABLE mistake, but a mistake never the less!  I found this pattern for a "Kimono Tee" on BurdaStyle.com and decided to try and make a tunic out of it by lengthening it. Well, I didn't account for the belly or hips when I did, so I ended up with this super-tight, really long shirt. Not ideal. SO, I figured I'd try "ruching" the front to make it fit over the upcoming belly. I used a basting stitch on the front half of the fabric starting 4" from the edge of the sleeves to the edge, and gathered it up, well... until it looked nice and hit a good spot on my hips really. Then I pinned it to the back side and sewed the two together (with the back remaining flat). I then trimmed off the back in a nice curve (to help cover the bum). Since it was made of knit, I didn't finish ANY of the edges. And this fabulously draping green fabric was in the Value Bin at $2.00/yard!! So the shirt cost me about... $3.00. I've gotten compliments on this shirt out in town too! And surprised a few people saying that I MADE it!. Tomorrow I'll tell you about successfully modifying the Kimono pattern into a tunic!

Just remember: when you go to sew clothes, or anything really... don't be afraid!! You never know what you'll end up with, and there's USUALLY a way you can fix it - and make a statement while doing so!


October 8, 2011

Maternity Fashions: Refashioning Pants for Baby Belly: NO panel?!? But a draw-string!

After trying "Full Panel Jeans" and "Partial Panel Capri's" I was still looking for the "perfect waistband" for this cranky pregnant belly, and decided to make a pair of Bermuda shorts that felt like my PJ's.

The key? A draw-string. The thing is... if you just throw a draw string on your pants when your pregnant... you end up with... a pouch. That... isn't attractive. SO, as with the other types of maternity pants: we're cutting out where the belly goes here too. BUT, this time... when you make your cut, make it 1/2"-1" SMALLER than where you THINK it should be, because we're going to turn the front edge of those pants into a casing for that drawstring. If that means you can't cut out the whole zipper - then cut the zipper itself out, and sew up what's remaining of the fly.

With these pants, you shouldn't use pants that are too-small in any way. A little bigger than you need is best. These pants came from the thrift shop, and have been worn a BUNCH - they are my "go-to" pant. Although, if I was going to make another pair at this point, I'd make a hybrid of this and the partial-panel-pant... which I'll explain at the end (since I haven't actually made one yet).

So after we've cut our belly-section out, we simply fold over the edge semi-circle hole as much as you allowed for before. Make sure that it's 1/4" MORE than the width of your elastic. I used 1/4" elastic, so I had a 1/2" casing. You won't go all the way around the pant, just around the belly opening. Now's where we hit the "gritty" portion of my maternity refashions. The little details I DIDN'T worry about, since no one was supposed to see it anyway!

With a pair of scissors, cut two small holes in the outside of the casing in the front - very tiny... just enough to fit a safety pin in. You'll be using those holes for your drawstring (and to thread your elastic). First: the elastic. With a piece of elastic that fits snugly around your body and under your belly without being uncomfortable thread the elastic through the front casing, into the waistband around the back, and back through to the same hole you started in. (I tend to cut it longer than needed, tack it with a safety pin, and wear the pants for a day, to adjust to make sure it's the right length.)  In these pants, I had to snip a little holes on the INSIDE of either side to bypass the side seam. No worries if you need to do this... who's really looking at the inside of your waistband anyway?!?

Once you've got your elastic threaded through and the right length, you'll tack the two ends together and tuck them inside that little hole you started with. Then, you'll take a shoelace (I used a ribbon, but it would have worked better with a bias tape or something with a little flex to it.) and thread it around so you can "tighten it up" as needed - just like your PJ's.  And ta-da! You have a pair of pants that you can tie up against the un-sensitive parts! The only downside? You don't get that "bare skin protection" of a panel - so this is a good style for long tee shirts, tunics, or days you REALLY don't care. As your belly gets bigger, you'll have to be more careful. Fortunately? I needed a brace for the 2nd half of the pregnancy, and it "covered" me - but the brace was visible. This is why if I made these again, I'd make a 'hybrid' version.

To make a hybrid version, I would follow basically all the same instructions as shown here, but also sew ina panel when I sew the casing in the front: purely as a "skin cover-up". In that case, you'd pin back your casing edge, and lay a piece of knit large enough to cover the opening (and folded for a nice edge around the waist) underneath before sewing it. You could totally cut the "extra" off around the seam allowance after sewing too, so feel free to use a rectangle. If I make another pair of pants, it'll definitely be that way!


October 7, 2011

Maternity Fashions: Refashioning Pants for baby Belly - Partial Panel Pants

Yesterday, I showed you my "full panel pants" but they weren't my favorite. They didn't work for me the same reason that store-bought varieties didn't work (and why REGULAR jeans don't like to work either!) So I tried again... with a partial panel.

These pants were actually a little TOO SMALL for me (now they're REALLY too small, but that's because of my butt... not my belly!)  They had never quite fit right, so I had no problem hacking into them and trying again!

As with the full panel pants, you'll want to start by cutting out the portion that your belly will now occupy. There's no need for the zipper, so cut it right out of there! (Some of you may even find something good to do with those zippers... and if you do... let me know! I have a few pairs of zippers just stashed in my craft room at this point)

As for how we're going to hold them up...
First we need to make our panel for the belly cut-out. With the hole cut out, and the pants lieing flat, take a piece of knit fabric (stretching side-to-side) and fold it in half, so that it completely covers the hole, the folded edge lines up with the edge of the pants, and the raw edges are about 1/2"-1" below the bottom of the hole (for a seam allowance). If you line it up INSIDE the pants, you'll be able to draw a chalk line along where the hole is, and then cut out the "semi-circle" 1/2-1" bigger (for seam allowances). That's your panel... put it to the side.
Now, lace some elastic through the waistband in the back and tack it down on the raw edges of the pants to keep it held up over your tush (and pull in any gappage that might occur). You'll want to make that elastic fairly tight - a good 5"-6" shorter than what's left of the pants. Tack one side down at the raw edge, and then lace it through the waistband, and tack it on the other side.
Next, we're going to "fill in our belly hole" with that belly panel. This can be a little complicated since you're working with two curves, but you can do it so long as you're careful. Pin the panel so that "right sides are together" along the entire curve of the panel and pants. It's not going to lay flat and nice, but don't worry... when you "turn it right side out" it'll be fine. Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance around the raw edges, and you've got a semi-paneled pant!

**warning: bare belly ahead!**

These pants are now REALLY snug, but it's not due to the belly panel ;) This style allows for the belly to grow, without changing the construction of the rest of the pant - perfect for those "boy belly's" out there where apparently, the only thing that changes is your tummy. As you can see... I'm having a girl.


October 6, 2011

Maternity Fashions: Refashioning Pants for baby belly - Full Panel

First: maternity pants are not comfy for me. There are a variety of reasons why... but they don't particularly matter, because secondly: they're stinkin' expensive!!

In my experimentation, I've tried three different waist styles. 
Today, we'll look at the "classic" style: a full panel... homemade style.

You'll need: a pair of pants you won't want to wear again after you're pregnant (read: your favorite pants) and some knit fabric

 In this photo, the panel is folded over to look like a cami underneath. 
They're a little snug in this picture, but doesn't my butt look fabulous?!?

First, some explanation, and then some more photos - watch out... you're gonna see some bare belly.

The first step: cut out the part of the waist that your belly now occupies. On my pants, this generally spans the front of my hip bones, and has a "drop" of about 5 inches. This is usually the entirely of the zipper (which actually makes life easy... just cut that thing out!) If you're not sure what you should cut out, put the pants on, and with a piece of chalk, mark where your belly is and use that as a cut line. Don't be afraid to "go a little low" in the front on this pair since it'll be covered anyway, and it can be more comfortable if the front part is a little low (just think about all those store-bought varieties)

You'll also need to cut a large rectangle of knit fabric. 
To determine the SIZE of this rectangle is VERY scientific...

1) Measure from below your belly to however high you want the panel to sit, and multiply by 2. 
2) stretch a bit of the fabric around your middle so that it's just snug - that's how long it should be. (see, scientific)

Sew your rectangle into a tube, and fold it in half, wrong sides together. Align the raw edges of the tube with the raw edges of your pants and pin so that the tube faces "down" (you'll have to stretch the knit a bit - this is to help keep your pants up!). Sew around the raw edges with a 1/2" seam allowance, and TA-DA!! You have a maternity panel pant!

I chose to make a wide-top panel, so when I folded it in half, it could peek out the bottom like a cami. It's also why I chose to use white knit (I still don't get why the belly panels in the store are "jean colored" or "flesh colored" and not "shirt colored"...)

   Panel "up"

  Panel folded

You can use ANY type of knit or color, so long as it's pretty stretchy. Have fun! Go thrift shopping for jeans that are "almost OK" and make a bunch of pairs of jeans! Use this method to make shorts or skirts too! Essentially, it's a "yoga style waistband" on a pair of jeans - should be pretty comfy for post baby too! (and who says you REALLY need to be pregnant to wear yoga-style-banded pants?!?)

October 5, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Refashioned Elastic Waist Skirt

Yesterday was a REALLY long tutorial on how to make a maternity peasant skirt in 4-5 hours or so. Lets take it down a notch and I'll show you the skirt I made FIRST in about 30 minutes.

This one... used to be a nightgown. An XL nightgown found for $1.00 at the thrift shop. I liked the colors (they matched all my maternity tee's) and I saw potential... if for nothing else than putzing around the house (although yes, this skirt has made trips to the store!) I did not make this a "Maternity Skirt" but could have easily.

Easiest re-fashion EVER. Take a too-big dress, cut straight across at the arms, fold over twice to form a casing and finish the top edge, saving a small space to thread elastic through - thread the elastic, sew the ends together, and finish off the casing. Ta-da!!  If I had made it maternity, I would have folded the dress flat from front to back, and cut it at an angle to account for the "rise" required to go around the belly before putting the casing and elastic in.

It's a GREAT way to take some of those "too big" items you find for cheap into something useful! Yay for under-belly elastic!!


October 4, 2011

Maternity Fashions: Peasant Skirts

A friend of mine has been patiently waiting for me to show you all how I made my maternity clothes, and after writing posts for the rest of the week, I'm "re-arranging" a day so you get the REAL tutorial first. Unfortunately, this is also the last real "tutorial" you'll get! The rest are basic "how-to's" that you'll need to experiment a little on your own to make work for you. I'm sure you'll all live. I actually wrote the tutorial a month ago, and am finally getting around to inserting the pictures and posting it. Here goes!

So I keep promising that I'll show you the maternity outfits/pieces I've put together over the past.... 7 8 months or so (yup... SEVEN EIGHT months pregnant now!)... and I'm finally going to do one. Warning: this is incredibly wordy. I blame my 8th grade trip to Ireland where I kissed the Blarney Stone. My mom has been wondering ever since if I kiss it again... will I SHUT UP?!?! :-P (OK, for real... my sister wonders that, not my mom) If you're not into words, look at these pretty pictures here...

Trial Version in blue Seersucker       Good version in grey printed cotton
(and yes, I end up wearing the "trial" version more often due to the extra few inches)

Say "oooh. nice!" and I'll see you in about 2 weeks, when the "Maternity Fashion" session is over!

Wow, you're still here? For now at least *wink wink*.

I made 2 of these skirts, one as a "trial" and one as a "good one" and neither came out quite as I anticipated, but I think if I made a third, I'd get it spot on! I'll give the dimensions for the "spot on" skirt :-P

First, I must say that I don't like regular maternity clothes. I haven't liked the waistbands on anything I've owned... I like a small bit of elastic that fits below this enormous belly. That's not how regular clothes work... APPARENTLY, people like having their bellies covered. More support or something (or perhaps, just not having their tummies (and stretch marks) on display to the world when a wind kicks up. FORTUNATELY, putting a belly panel on really ANY item of clothing isn't too hard - and I'll get to that explanation soon enough... in my "How I found my perfect maternity pants" post coming.... eventually three Maternity Pants posts later this week.

ANYWAY, I've ended up buying regular elastic waist items and just pushing them below (or above, depending) my belly. The problem? You get what I affectionately termed something I wouldn't say to grandma, and so won't write here... but we'll say "man space" instead. It's that bulge of extra fabric that SHOULD be around your waist... but isn't. So I finally buckled down, got my machine fixed (the tension was extra wonky), and did some experimenting with the ruffler foot that hubby got me for my birthday (cause he's the best hubby in the WORLD and bought me sewing stuff :-P). If you don't have a ruffler foot, you can still make a peasant skirt, you'll just need to use a gathering stitch and way more pins than me. I hate pins... hence the ruffler foot :). You'll want to check out Happy Together's Let Freedom Ring Tutorial and use it after step 5.

What I came up with, was two really cute peasant skirts that make me feel better about wearing the 4 tee-shirts I bought when I first got pregnant - it like, triples my wardrobe, right!?!? Something tells me that real soon, I'm going to have to attempt to clone those as well... they're getting awfully "short"... Maybe I'll just try that belly band again... I might have to start caring about where the shirts hit. I probably won't though ;)

Needless to say, it's pretty easy, though time-consuming. It took me 4-5 hours for each skirt, but only about 2 yards of fabric (on sale!), 1 yard of elastic, some thread, and one sewing machine needle... so about $6.00! (after sewing this skirt, you'll need to change your needle - it's just a LOT of stitches. Don't whine about it... just do it.) A lot of that time was getting my fabric cut, making sure I wasn't screwing up, and taking pictures.

Here's how I made mine for my extra-large booty/bump combo ;) - side note: you can totally make a non-preggers skirt with this "tutorial" - I'll point out which step to skip when we get there!

1) Go to the fabric store, and pick a fabric that you like. Get at least 2.5 yards. I only ended up using 2, but after many "crap!" moments of running out when making a "nice" item... get extra. Take it home and WASH IT so it's done all the shrinking it plans on doing BEFORE you piece it together. Iron out all the crinkles from leaving it in the dryer overnight and trim the edge of your fabric so that it's even. (long step one, but I figured it's all "prep" and you'd live.)

2) Figure out how big around it needs to be. To be honest... I have no real idea how big around I am right now, nor do I want to know. The general rule is to use 1.5 to 2 times the fabric the length you need to cover (just like with curtains)... in skirt 1, I just used the width of the bolt (I wrapped it around me, it went more than once and not quite twice... I went with it. It was 57" wide. For skirt 2, I used 56" since it worked for skirt 1.

3) Figure out how LONG you want the top tier. I tried 13" and 11"... I like 11" better. I'm 5'5", and 13" hits the base of my booty, where 11" hits the point that's farthest out. (P.S. that included space for my casing which was 1/2"... if you're using elastic wider than 1/4" you'll need to add some room on top... or not since the measurements on here aren't really tight)

4) Cut a rectangle of fabric that is YOUR "around" x "long"... so for me... 56"x11". You can also cut 2 pieces that EQUAL that (plus seam allowances) and sew them together. Depends on your fabric and what makes you happy.

5) Now... this is the "skip if you don't have a bump" step. For those that HAVE bumps... we're going to put the "rise" (which is really the opposite of what it really is, but whatever) in our skirt now. You need to figure out the distance in height from where you want the back of your skirt to sit.... to where you want the front of it to sit. My "rise" is 5" (big booty, big bump). We're going to cut a big arc cut in the rectangle of fabric that goes down 5" (or your "rise") and 2/3 of the total length. I found that 2/3's gathered worked nicely and gave me an even hem (since that's the goal here). So folded in half, we take 1/3 (because we're now working with HALF our length) and mark that far from the fold. In my case: 19". Then we make a nice, sweeping arc from one mark (19") to the other (5") like in the picture here. Note: on skirt one, I took it UP from the bottom and left the waist even... on skirt 2 I took it DOWN from the top and had an arc in the waist. Skirt 1 was easier to finish.

6) Now, we have to figure out our ruffler... my skirts were ruffled on a setting of one ruffle per 6 stitches, at a depth of 3 and a stitch length of 3. It's the ruffle that made me happy (and a shallower ruffle didn't agree with my fabric it seemed). If you want less ruffle, you can: increase the stitch length, decrease the depth, or ruffle every 12 stitches... it's totally up to you. Take a scrap of fabric and ruffle it for a known distance (I used 5 inches) and then measure again AFTER ruffling. You'll need to do this to figure out how much fabric to cut. My 5" distance became 4" after ruffling... so now it's time to do some math. I'm just going to show you MY math, and you can figure out your own from there (hopefully)

I have 56" of fabric on the 1st tier...
so I multiply 56 by 5 and then divide by 4 to get my needed length for tier 2: 70"
That means I need 70" of fabric to ruffle around ONCE on my skirt. I plan to have four tiers total, so I do the math again.
Tier 3: 70 x 5 / 4 = 87.5 (and round up)
Tier 4: 88 x 5 / 4 = 110
And I need to plan on extra "just because" (an experience thing again) I randomly chose 36".

So I need: 70 + 88 + 110 + 36 = 304 inches of fabric.

Don't worry - it's not all in one strip... yet. We're going to cut our fabric into 6" strips and sew them together into one LONG piece of fabric. Take how wide your bolt (or fabric) is, subtract 1" (for seam allowances and good luck) and divide 304 by that number: my number was 30. That means I'll need 10.1 strips... so really... 11... which just ups my insurance on having enough. (Skirt 1 needed some finessing due to no extra... I was very happy to have 15" extra on skirt 2! It'll be perfect for a little twisted flower detail on something else!)

7) Cut your strips... however works best for you... I folded my fabric neatly and cut it with a rotary cutter... if you have any tips for better methods, I'm all ears!

8) Sew your strips together to make one HUGE strip. This is because although we're SUPPOSED to need 70" for the first tier... we might end up needing a little more or a little less, and this guarantees us we'll have enough at each round.  You CAN sew these with your ruffler foot still attached to the machine (since it can be a bear to put on)... just put the stitch length on "Star" - aka, "infinity" or you can switch out to your regular foot, or you can just wing it and cut and stitch before testing your ruffles... whatever suits your fancy.

9) Now... we ruffle. Put your strip into your ruffler right side down, and then line up your "modified rectangle" UNDER the presser foot right side up (aka, right sides together), lower the presser foot, and sew away. I used a 1/2" seam allowance, if you're really good with your ruffler, you can use the little guides, but it wasn't working for this novice that way... so I gave up. Ruffle ALL THE WAY ACROSS your "rectangle". Trim off the extra fabric on the sides... and do it again on the next tier. And again on the next tier. And if you chose to have more tiers... then keep-on going.


10) WHEW! Done ruffling! Now it's time to hem our raw edges. I used a narrow rolled hem foot to put a nice little "professional" hem on the bottom of the skirt, but you can hem (or serge or interlock, or whatever) any way you'd like. I <3 my rolled-hem foot... and it only cost me $10! I'm debating getting I even got a 1/4" one... ANYWAY... hem your bottom edge. I also did the narrow rolled hem on the top edge so I could just simply "fold over" the top to make a casing later. If you'd like, sew that 1st fold of the casing over now.

11) Are we there yet?!?!? This step is 100% optional, so if you're bored... feel free to move on. I wanted a more "professional" look inside that might hold up to the wash a tiny bit better... so I "overlocked" all the ruffled edges on the inside. I don't have a serger, or a serge-and-cut foot (it's on my wishlist) or anything else... so it was just a zig-zag over the edge of the fabric... aka, I kept the edge of the ruffle in the center of the foot and just went with it. Do that for each exposed edge.

12) It's time to make it a circle! So far, we've been sewing the way I like to knit... flat. But it's time to join the sides of our skirt... so with right sides facing, pin the skirt together (notice this is our first use of pins?) and make sure that each seam meets itself so you're even when it's done. Then straight stitch all the way down, making sure to lock your stitches at the beginning and end. Then trim any "extra" (I always have extra on seams....) and overlock again down the side (make sure your zig zag doesn't sew over your straight stitch line though!).

13) FINALLY... we're at the casing! Fold your top edge of your skirt over 1/4" more than your elastic is wide. Mine was 1/4" elastic, so I folded over 1/2" (and pinned, cause I had a curvy edge). I do suggest you pin here so you can just worry about keeping your seam even without worrying about where your fabric is trying to lie. Straight stitch ALMOST all the way around your skirt. Don't worry if things get a little wonky... there's gathering involved, so no one will ever notice. Make sure you start about 1" away from your seam and stop another 1" from it when you finish so you can thread your elastic through.

14) Thread some elastic with a safety pin through the casing and cinch it down until it feels snug on you. Technically, you should be able to use that "around" measurement from the beginning and subtract 5"-6" and have that be your final elastic length... but my pregnant belly is sensitive... hence the skirt. So I just experiment. I also wear my skirts unfinished for a while (elastic held in place and to the seam with said safety pin) to make sure it's comfy (not too loose or too tight) before I finish it off. I have adjusted my elastic EVERY time.

15) Once you're happy with the elastic length, sew the two ends of elastic together, and finish off those 2 inches of casing. Ta da! You're finally done (only 15 steps later!)

Now your skirt hem is actually FLAT, your belly is happy, AND it only cost you $6.00.

If you like a belly panel on your skirt, you can either add one on top of the elastic (which I plan on doing once my shirts get too short) or forgo the elastic and just add a belly panel instead. More on that hopefully soon!

If you made it this far: I love you too!! Let me know if you make one yourself!