Wednesday, February 17, 2016

KISS Play Dress or Shirt (Keep It Simple, Sweetie)

Pretty sure I figured out (one of) my problem(s) this week.  I often feel like I do nothing well, but I'm interested in doing almost everything.  You've heard the phrase Jack of all Trades?  Me to a t.  It's becoming clear to me as I see the same attitude in my tiny daughter whose favorite phrase right now is, "Me got this."  I got it, I'm good, I can figure this out by myself.  Apparently, from my own mothers stories, my similar phrase at age two was, "Do it by myself."  I'm sure it's quite common among two year olds, but I evidently never grew out of that!  I have this desire in me to figure things out by myself and just be as self sufficient as possible.  And most often this comes out in a joy to learn new skills such as cooking from scratch, animal tending, and homemade utensils and clothing.  But then I'm on to the next thing, often without honing my skills to an adept level, but just enough to get by in a pinch if I needed to. 

Ah, well.  Perhaps expertise will simply come with age?  Speaking of which, is it just me, or has time picked up the pace a little bit?  It seems to be screaming by with a 4 and 2 year old growing in our home!  Wow!  Every day they amaze me!  And every day I'm amazed by which of their clothes no longer fit! =)  Even a non-parent friend of mine commented yesterday how absurd he found it to spend a fortune on a child's wardrobe when they so quickly out grow (or wear through) it! 

And while children's clothes can be less expensive, great deals can be found a thrift shops, and little blessings of hand-me-downs sometimes appear, there's something very satisfying in making something specifically for your child.  While I love knit and crochet, the investment of time alone into the project makes it a precious commodity that I tend to reserve for occasions such as church or the like.  But more often than not, my children live in play clothes.  I've made (refashioned) several simple play dresses for my daughter, but have been hesitant to share them on here because they're not perfect, not well-finished they're just comfortable play dresses that she will outgrow in a couple months!  But for those of you who might have a similar interest and goal, I'll sketch out my quick process.  Usually this dress takes me less than an hour, start to finish.

1)  Select a shirt: I do this from my give-away pile.  Some stains and small tears can be avoided depending on where you place your pattern.  Select a long sleeved shirt if you want your new dress to have long sleeves.
I wanted to put this here because it's often difficult to determine the shape of the sleeve.  You want to shoot for this bell shape where the sleeve will connect to the bodice so that it will hang well. 

2) Trace pattern: take a shirt or dress that currently fits (or mentally add a slight margin if you know you want it bigger), turn it inside out and fold it in half.  Likewise, fold the adult shirt in half. Line up he collar and, after you've determined how long you want the bodice to be, trace arm holes, sides and waist, lifting the sleeves to trace the arm holes if necessary.  Continue the waist cut all the way across the shirt.  This bottom rectangle will be your (already hemmed!) skirt section.  If you need to make it shorter, cut away desired strip size from the waist side.  Then determine how long you need the sleeves to be and line up the top folded edge before tracing it'sbell shape onto the sleeves of the shirt.  Don't forget seam allowance of about 1/4".   

3) Cut pieces: remember to consider seam allowance. 

4) Sew:  With right sides together, I like to start with the shoulders and sides of the top first.  Be sure you sew from the collar side toward the periphery on the shoulder seams so the collar is sure to line up.
     After this you can do a slight gather on the skirt, but I often just pin the bodice (right side out) to the skirt (inside out over the bodice so right sides are facing) at the quarter marks and then gently gather as I go. 
And to finish off with the sleeves, you need to sew the seam the length of the sleeve first, set it into the armhole of the bodice, and (pinned and right sides facing again) carefully sew around. 

New dress!  Time: 1 hour, Cost: $0 Ready to play and I won't worry a lick if it gets muddy, stained or torn!  This easily translates into a shirt pattern and you know it's going to fit your little one perfectly!  Though I tend to make mine on the larger side so she can wear it just a little bit longer! =)  I've used this concept for all the tops pictured.  As I mentioned, I'm not much of a sewer (Haha!  "Sewer!"  I mean "seamstress!"), so if you have any questions or I can provide better instructions in some way, I would love to hear from you!
Variation: with this sweater dress, I omitted the waistline and continued my side seams to the original bottom hem.

Variation: Use a men's dress shirt (and keep the pockets!)

Variation: no waist, higher bottom for shirt style that I did have to hem myself

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