Happy Holiday Friday everybody! Long time no see! Well, technically I've never seen you, but that doesn't mean I didn't miss you!
Let's jump right into this week's project for what I call a "Choose Your Own Adventure" tutorial. We will be making an infant/toddler romper from scratch...BUT you can also apply a few of the last steps to turn old infant/toddler dress INTO a romper. Heck, you can even apply this tutorial to a grown-up romper if you wish. Don't let anything hold you back, your imagination is your guide! All I do is provide you with measurement ratios and basic sewing techniques.
Also, we will be using a French seam in the project, just like the previous article about the drawstring bag. We have a surger/merrow machine here at North Star, but I don't have one at home. And I realize that some of you at home may not have a surger/merrow either. So I like to show off techniques that help you get a clean, industry quality finish in your own craft room. Sometimes the techniques will add time to your project, but when clothing you make can last to be passed on to generations of wearers, you'll be glad you finished it correctly.
Items Needed For Adventure One:
2 pieces 18.5 x 17 inches
4 pieces 1.5 x 15 inches
1 piece about 8 inches (will be folded into 4s later to cut some stuff)
1/4 elastic cut into a 20 inch piece (or however big your baby's chest is + 2 inches)
two 7.5 inch pieces of the 1/4 inch elastic
5 snaps or 5 little half inch squares of velcro
***Please skip to "Step 1"***
Items Needed for Adventure Two:
13 inch square of fabric that matches the dress
***Please skip to "Step 4: Makin' Legs!"
Step 1) Making the Body of the Romper
- Take your two large squares.
To perform French seam, skip to "Step 1A". DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING.
- Finish the sides and top somehow, either with a surger or with the fancy stitches on a home sewing machine
- Put your fabrics faces together and sew a half inch seam allowance down the sides, making a fabric tube.
***Skip ahead to "Step 2"
Step 1A) French Seam
- Place your fabrics with the wrong sides together. Sew a quarter inch seam allowance.
- After sewing, cut the quarter inch down to 1/8
- Flip the fabric tube so it has the face fabrics facing each other. Sew the side seams shut with a quarter inch seam allowance.
Step 2) Top of the Romper!
- Fold the top down a quarter inch and iron. Fold again to be a little longer than a half inch, but not quite 5/8. Iron flat.
- Sew a top stitch down on that fold, but leave about an inch or two open so you can thread in the long elastic piece.
- Tie one end of the elastic to a paper clip (or safety pin works excellent). Note: Make sure the pointy ends on the paper clip are facing down, away from the direction you're pushing it. Too many times I got it backwards and had a crazy difficult time pushing it through.
- After you've worked the whole piece through, tie the ends into a knot.
- Work the knot into the fabric casing there and sew the hole shut so you can't see inside to the elastic any more. CASE CLOSED!!...if you will..
Step 3) Strap Time
- Take your four 1.5 x 15 inch pieces and iron them in half. Fold the ends in so it looks like binding and iron again.
- Take all 4 pieces to the machine and stitch the seam down. Tie a knot in one end of the strap when you're done.
- Lay the body of the romper flat with the top pointing towards you. Pin your straps about 2 1/4 inches in from the side seams, one set on top and one set on bottom.
- Fold the strap end twice to hide the rough edge under your stitch. Put one stitch in the bottom, and one over the elastic area, as shown in the picture:
Step 4) Makin' Legs!
- Take the dress and lay it flat. Find the center and mark it. Draw marks 1 1/2 inches from the center (total 3 inch line).
- Draw a semi circle that's 1 1/2 inches from the center line so it looks like this:
- Cut out the semi-circle on the dress.
- Get a piece of paper and we'll begin the piece that makes the openable crotch area (for easy diaper fixin'. If you're making this for a diaperless person, you can take some liberties with how tall or defined the crotch hole is. You might choose to make it taller for a longer pantleg or keep it short for a shorty shorts romper. Either way, skip to Step 4A)
- Draw a rainbow shape with these dimensions:
- These dimensions provide you with your seam allowance already included. The line at the bottom is just showing there the dress ends, we'll be sewing this with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
- Take your 13 inch square and fold it in half, and in half again, which will make us 4 "C"s. Place your paper pattern onto the fabric and cut the 4 "C"s.
- Take 2 "C"s, place them face to face, and sew 3 sides with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Do the same to the other two.
- Fold them inside out and use a pointy BUT NOT SHARP object to push out the corners. Iron flat. Put the C pieces to the side for a moment.
Step 4A) Leg Holes
- Either finish the leg bottoms with a surger or fold them twice to encase the raw edges.
- Pin the ends of the elastic to the top and bottom of the inside of the pant leg, like in the image:
- Make sure to keep a tight stretch for a nice stitch. Make sure you catch the folded fabric in the stitch too so it doesn't flop out later and look like junk.
* * *
If you're making this for a diaperless person, just flip the dress inside out, line up the crotch semi circles, and sew that crotch area shut. You're all done with the romper, go find a toddler and try it on! We do suggest you ask said toddler's parent's permission before hand.
* * *
- Bring back those C's, it's time to put them into the crotch region. Line up the unsewn side of the C pieces with the semicircles of the bottom of the dress. You can choose to surge the raw edges after you stitch them together or French seam it again (remember, wrong sides together first, trim, flip, and sew again right sides together).
- This is where you can either attach the snaps in 5 evenly spaced places along each C shape. You will be top stitching the C's down, so keep this in mind when placing your snaps, you don't want to run over one with your machine and break a needle. You might even consider putting snaps in after we stitch down the C's, it depends on if you want things showing through the front or not. I went with velcro because it's not detrimental to run over with the machine and I don't have a snap machine and I don't have the time for those hand sewn snaps.
- Stitch down the Cs to the inside of the crotch area. I started stitching down the larger portion of the C first, and from the inside.
- Then I flipped it to the outside to do the shorter portion:
- Here's a nice finished crotch region:
- When you're ready to put it on, just tie the top straps into cute little bows.
Since we don't have easy access to a toddler here in the office, I decided to bring in Mr. Bear, and doesn't he look sharp as a tack in his new summer romper!
Stop in next week for more ideas about what to do with those old scraps!