Sunday, September 2, 2012


It seems that all of a sudden many of my friends, ones who are only slightly older, are having babies or getting married.  I'm not sure I can count how many have tied the knot or started hoarding pacifiers just this summer, though that could also be due to the difficulty I have counting... once I reach a certain point I just start saying numbers out loud which may or may not have anything to do with the preceding digit.  I wonder if this is related to my difficulty walking up and down stairs? Does anyone else get stuck in the middle?  Or perhaps that's a discussion best saved for another day...

Anyway, a friend of mine recently announced she was pregnant, so after being really excited, and then some thinking and exploring and cooing over the cuteness of little tiny things (Ryan had to save me by sending me pictures of ugly babies to counteract their charm) I decided on a free dress pattern from the blog Made by Rae.  She had originally designed something for a small newborn, but another blogger (Amber) resized it for a 2T-3T.  Now, everyone tells me that new parents consistently receive clothing for their newborns, who subsequently outgrow them and then they are faced with naked children or have to go shopping or something.  Thus I am always advised to get clothing that's a little bigger.  What confuses me is that everyone always says that parents have too much newborn clothing--so isn't everyone giving them clothing for the next year?  Who out there is causing the glut in newborn onsies?  Anyway, I decided to go for the 2T-3T because what if it's a really big baby?  What if they already have 500 little tiny shirts and little tiny dresses and little tiny booties and little tiny hats and sweaters?  Ooohh... focus... focus... (I almost got stuck in the Baby Gap I visited for inspiration--all those super adorable pea-pod patterned tiny garments?  Who could resist?)

I already had the fabric because I'd gone to Jo-Ann's while at home in California and picked up some bits and pieces during their July 4th sale, some of which was just perfect for a little child.  What I lacked  was a selection of notions for binding or piping, but I figured I could easily make those myself with another coordinating fabric.

After reading over the patterns I decided I liked them a lot, but that it would be that much cuter (and not that much harder) to make it completely reversible.  I also added a wider band of material at the waist to join the bodice and skirt rather than deal with piping, and then added that as binding for the bottom hem.

So, my instructions for the "fully-reversible-not-so-itty-bitty dress" are as follows:

Print and construct your super easy pattern, either for the 2T-3T or for the newborn.  Also, you might want to download your instructions from Made by Rae (only found on the newborn pattern), though I'll provide my own here.  But I'm not used to writing instructions, so perhaps they'll be a little opaque.

Cut out four sets of the bodice, two in each color you plan to use.  (For cutting purposes you may be interested to know that the bodice is symmetrical on the vertical axis.)  If you want to cut everything now, you can also cut two pieces of fabric that are 36 x 15 for the skirt.  I actually did mine in four 15 x 18.5 pieces and pieced them together because of the pattern and size of my fabric, but really what you need are two big rectangles that are about 36 x 15.  You'll also need three strips of a contrasting fabric.  Two are twice the width of the bodice (the long flat edge) long and three inches wide.  The other is a long strip of 36 by 3 inches.

My cutting station, the floor (I did vacuum first).

Let's start with the bodice.  Make pairs with one of each color.  Pin right sides together and sew the curvy edge of the bodice, from armpit over the sleeve ties and neck to the other armpit, with 1/4 inch seams.  Turn and press each pair.  Then, to attach the "front" to the "back" of the chest part of the bodice, sew like fabric to like fabric, right sides together, along the sides (the short straight edges).

You can see the bodice turned inside-out here, with pins to sew the two fabrics together.  When you flip it right side out (and press), you'll have...
Ta da! Finished bodice! What's hard to see in this picture is that the inside and 
outside parts of the bodice aren't attached together so you can slip the skirt inside.  
That's why the last step was important!

Next, we'll work on the skirt.  Take your giant rectangles and sew a 1/2 inch seam along the side of each.  Press the seams open.  Then, fit them together, right sides out, and pin along the top/waist edge.  Since it's currently just a giant rectangle we want to put in some gathers to make it fit the bodice.  With the sewing machine making the largest stitches possible and with the tension on its loosest, sew one seam 1/4 inch from the top of the skirt.  When you're done, carefully tie together the threads from one end of the seam and then take one thread from the other end, pulling gently until the skirt gathers to the same size as the bodice.  

See those easy-peasy gathers up at the top of the picture?

At this point I start diverging from the Made by Rae pattern.  See, I didn't have any piping and I wanted  to make my dress reversible, so I figured that a band of fabric around the waist, concealing the join, would help.  I used the pattern for the bodice to measure out the length of a strip wide enough to go around the entire dress (so two bodice widths) and cut it three inches wide.  Then I made another for the other side of the dress.  I then folded each so that the two edges joined down the middle, pinned, and pressed it to stay.  See the photo of one above.

Next, I wanted to attach them to the bodice.  So, unfolding one side, I pinned it to be ready to sew along the crease (just like attaching binding tape!).  Sew like this on both sides of your bodice, being careful not to sew your bodice together.

After you're done you'll want to press the seams away from each other on both sides, as in the picture above.  

Now, there's probably a better way of attaching the skirt to the bodice that involves no visible seams, but I was feeling a little unsure of myself and the whole reversible thing, so I simply folded the bodice so it was right side out, matching the skirt fabric with the bodice fabric as I desired, and carefully inserted and pinned the skirt between the two layers of bodice fabric.  Then I sewed close to the edge along the bottom of the waist band and then along the top (about 1/8 inch).  

And now the dress is almost done!  The only thing remaining is a hem for the bottom.  I wanted to have it bound in the same fabric I used for the waist, so I took my strip of 36 x 3 inch fabric and turned it into wide binding tape.  (Which means I folded it in half and pressed, and then folded each edge in toward the center to fold it in quarters lengthwise.)  I then pinned and sewed just like regular ol' binding tape.  (For a tutorial on binding tape see this link, also featured on my last blog post, but know that I didn't bother with making it actual bias tape, so it's just a regular strip of fabric.)

Sewing away, with the other side of the skirt featured.

And that, my friends, is it.  So easy!  And hopefully it will fit my beautiful friends' beautiful baby... in a couple of years!  (Maybe it was weird to make something so big?)

Side one and...

... side two!

I did this over one evening and one morning, with probably about 2.5 hours of work each time.  Part of what took so long was deciding on the fabrics and figuring out what I wanted to do with the pattern, so it might not take so long if you were all decided ahead of time.  I had originally wanted to use another yellow for the skirt on side #2 and have a blue top, but unfortunately the pattern with the animals showed through on the other side of the fabric and you could consequently see it through any of my lighter colored fabrics.  I hadn't wanted to pick a dark color because I'm worried it might create some problems when doing laundry, but hopefully that won't prove to be the case!  

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