Tag Archive | skirt

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

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It A Trap (ezoid) Skirt!

DSCN2926When I found this trapezoid scalloped edged girl’s skirt pattern on the internet, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the scraps that I had leftover from my minion shirt. The combination of the minion fabric, the banana fabric and the blue fabic had made for a fun shirt and it would definitely make a fun skirt too.

I was excited to get sewing but I knew that I had to start with a little math before I could take the first stitch.

Yes that’s right kids! Your teachers WERE RIGHT about the using math outside of school thing! Imagine that!

Since I was sewing empirically here, and not making this skirt for anyone in particular, so no particular size, I had to calculate how big I could make the trapezoids versus the amount of scraps that I had.

DSCN2554Luckily I’m not afraid of a little math, so after a few calculations, I found that I had enough scraps for a girl’s size 6 to 8 skirt, making the trapezoids 3 inches at the top and 5 inches at the bottom and 15 inches long. And as per my calculations, I would be cutting out 18 trapezoids in total, 6 from each of the three different fabrics and that would use up all the scraps I had.

I first cut myself out a trapezoid pattern piece and then I used it to start cutting. I tried to cut as accurately as possible so that all the pieces fit together nicely and would be even.

DSCN2717Cutting out the pieces took some time, but sewing the trapezoids together took even more time, plus each seam had to be pressed after I sewed them. I sewed each trapezoid from the bottom to the top to keep them as even as possible.

After the trapezoids were all sewn together, I used the skirt as my pattern to cut out the lining for the skirt. The pattern only called for only a small strip of lining to be used at the bottom of the skirt to make the scalloped hem, but I decided to fully line to skirt. This would take care of finishing all the trapezoid seams, and it would keep the girl’s panties from showing through the thinner minion and banana fabric and eliminate the hand stitching the pattern called for at the hem from only using a strip of lining.

DSCN2718Cutting the lining caused me a few moments of anxiety because of the amount of fabric needed to cut the lining. The skirt was made of scraps so really no large or useful sizes of fabric were used, but when the trapezoids were sewn together, they formed a circle skirt, and cutting a full lining on grain for a circle skirt did require a real size piece of fabric.

In fact, cutting this lining pretty much used up all the yellow lining fabric I had purchased on sale a while back. I was sad that this lining fabric was now all gone. It had been a great piece to turn to when I needed a lining for the little girls dress I had made. But, the husband comforted me by reminding me that there was now one less piece of fabric in the stash and that now I could go and buy more lining fabric. And who doesn’t love to go fabric shopping? Not me, that’s for sure!

DSCN2720With the lining all cut out and the its side seams sewn, placing right sides together and matching the hem, I sewed around the hem. At this time I cut out a cardboard circle to use as the pattern for the scalloped hem. I traced the circle onto the skirt, matching the seams of the trapezoids and the stitch line at the hem. After tracing a scallop on each trapezoid, I carefully sewed around each scallop edge. Trimming and snipping around each scallop was the next step followed by turning the skirt right side out. It was now time for a lot of pressing to the skirt hem.

DSCN2727Once the scalloped hem was done and pressed, it was time for the waist band. I had planned to use 3/4 inch elastic in the waist, so with a few more calculations, I cut the waist band from the blue fabric 2.5 inches wide and long enough to go around the top of the skirt. With right sides together, I sewed the waist band to the top of the skirt, serged the edges and pressed it towards the top of the waist band. I then serged the top edge of the waist band and pressed it over about 1/4 inch. I then folded and pressed the waistband over and stitched in the ditch to finish it off. I left a small unsewn portion to insert the elastic. I also added a small tag to the waist band to denote the back of the skirt from the front, although this skirt really does not have a front or back.

DSCN2723After the waist band was sewn up, it looked short, too short to fit 3/4 inches elastic into it. I am not sure where my calculations went wrong but I should have cut the waist band wider. I debated about unpicking the waist band and cutting a new wider waistband, but the thought of unpicking all the serging was unbearable, so I decided to use 1/2 inch elastic instead of the 3/4 inch that I had planned on. The 1/2 inch elastic fit into the waist band just fine and I think because this skirt is for a younger girl, the 1/2 inch elastic will wear fine too.

DSCN2725To determine how much elastic to use in the waistband, I measured the length of my finished skirt of approximately 15.5 inches. Looking at a chart I had downloaded off the internet, I cut my elastic 25 inches in length. 24 inches for the waistband and 1 inch for sewing it together. This length of elastic plus the length of the skirt meant I had made approximately a small size 8 skirt.

This worked for me. I do not think an eight year old girl is too old for a minion skirt. If I’m not too old for a minion shirt then an 8 year old girl is certainly not too old for a minion skirt. Perhaps I am just still young at heart!

DSCN2734I decided to do a decorative top stitch around the scalloped edge of the hem of this skirt. I think the scallops were sewn fine before I did this, but because this is a play skirt, and I am expecting it to be worn while running and jumping, a little extra strength at the hem certainly won’t hurt.

I think that this skirt turned out to be just adorable, and I am excited for a young girl to wear it and enjoy the minion and banana fabric as much as I have enjoyed making it!

This skirt has also given me one more option to use up my scraps with and I will keep it in mind that next time I am debating about what to do with a pile of scraps.

Until next time, sew forth and trapezoid on!

Hello Kitty

DSCN2341I debated about it a long time, but I finally decided to crochet a Hello Kitty for a coworker/friend of mine. She just adores Hello Kitty. I have seen a couple of patterns for Hello Kitty during my internet pattern browsing and they all look very cute. So I picked one that I thought my coworker would like and got started on it.

DSCN2280The pattern that I picked has Hello Kitty in a dress with a scarf and of course the bow on her ear. The red dress and scarf gave the Hello Kitty a Christmas type of vibe, so I thought about changing the color of the dress and omitting the scarf, but the husband liked the red dress and the scarf so I decided to follow the original design and colors of the pattern.

I started with the legs as I like to do when I am crocheting an amigurumi. In this pattern the legs and body are crocheted as one piece. I followed the pattern and the little feet and legs came out so cute, but when I got to the body and finished crocheting the body’s last row, something was not right. 

Where was the rest of the body? I re-read the pattern again. No, I had not miscounted. This short stubby piece on top of the legs was the body. I debated about adding more rows but then decided to crochet the other pieces and see how it all looked before I started modifying the pattern.

DSCN2157The arms and ears were crocheted next and then I got started on the head. Crocheting the head took some time and concentration. It took a lot of counting while crocheting. When I finished the head it looked so funny and misshaped to me. I wondered if I might be in an alternate universe or something where everything that should be right was wrong. 

I was beginning to have second thoughts about completing this project, but I decided to press on instead. After a lot of debating and the husband’s help I got the eyes inserted and then I started to stuff the pieces.

IMG_1787Stuffing the head presented another challenge. It would have been easy to overstuff the head and make it round but Hello Kitty’s head is flat like the rest of her body. So, I had to stuff the head with enough stuffing that it was full and firm but still flat which was very unusual to me. 

When I finally got all the pieces stuffed to where I liked, I laid all of the pieces together on my cutting table. I was not pleased with what I saw. The head was misshaped and it looked funny with the short stubby body and the long legs. At this point, I really wanted to abandon this project and move on to another project, but I had too much invested in both time and yarn in this amigurumi to quit. So I soldiered on.

DSCN2350As I started to stitch the pieces of this Hello Kitty together, she finally started to come to life. Her head did not seem as misshaped once her ears were actually stitched on to her head. And her body was not as stubby once it was stitched to her head and it was even less stubby once I had crocheted her skirt to her body.

At this point, I did deviate from the pattern. I wanted to crochet her bow instead of cutting one from felt. I followed the same pattern I had used previously to make a bow tie but I made it smaller. With some red yarn, I chained four then crocheted 3 in rows till I had the desired length I wanted for the bow. I then folded the ends to the center and stitched them together. Because of the smaller bow, I did not crochet the center piece of the bow but simply wrapped the red stripe with white yarn to make the bow.

DSCN2273For the scarf, I did not count how many chain stitches I started with. With some red yarn, I chained until it looked like the right length around Hello Kitty’s neck and called it good. Next I crocheted once around the long chain, then slipped stitched around the edge with white yarn. I think both the bow and the scarf turned out very cute. As I stitched them to Hello Kitty, she took on a personality and came to life even more.

Stitching on Hello Kitty’s whiskers and glueing on a pink round felt nose were the finally touches to complete this Hello Kitty.

DSCN2352Even though there were multiple times I wanted to tuck this project away with other UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects), I am glad I did not.

It the end, she turned out to be very cute I think!

I gave my coworker her Hello Kitty and she thought it was adorable and that did my heart good. 

It made be think about the UFO’s I still have tucked away. Maybe with a little more work, they could turn out to be as cute as this Hello Kitty did. 

Maybe I had better pull them out of their hiding place and see.

Until then, crochet forth and Hello Kitty on!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 3

DSCN0598A Hong Kong seam is made when you finish the edges of a seam by covering them with bias tape. It sounds simple enough to do, but there are always new sewing lessons to be learned every time you try something new and this time was no different.

But first a note to myself, make sure and cut the skirt pieces with a larger seam allowance to accommodate the bias tape. This gives you room to sew the bias tape on and not affect the circumference of the top of the skirt.

DSCN0570Two lessons that I learned about applying bias tape from the construction of this dress were to make sure and watch which side of the bias tape you’re working on and to watch which side of the fabric the bias tape is going to fold to.

DSCN0574Lesson one, remember the advise about making one side of the bias tape longer than the other while ironing the bias tape? And remember being careful to do just that as you ironed? Well, use that to your advantage when you’re sewing the bias tape on. When I started to sew the bias tape to my first seam allowance, I did not think to make sure I was sewing the shorter side of the bias tape first. By making sure that shorter side of the bias tape is sewn down first , that gives you the longer side to fold over. This gives you the little extra fabric on the back side, making it easier DSCN0575to catch the bias tape as you stitch in the ditch on the top side. When you stitch the longer side first and then fold the shorter side over, not only is there not the extra fabric but you are short fabric from folding over the longer side. Once I figured this out and sewed the short side first and then folding over the long side, the sewing on of the bias tape became much easier.

DSCN0577The second lesson of watching which side of the fabric the bias tape is folded to came when I added the the bias tape to the hem. When I sewed the bias tape to the seam allowances, I sewed it to the top of the fabric and then folded it to the back. After stitching in the ditch on the top, I had a nice clean finish on top and it did not matter if my seam was a little wavy on the back side. After binding the seam allowances of the two seams of the skirt, I had plenty of bias tape left over so I decided to use the remaining bias tape to finish off the hem of the skirt too.

DSCN0602But, since I did not remember to think a couple of steps ahead and see what was going to fold where, I sewed the short side of the bias tape to the inside of the hem. This meant I would be folding the longer side of the bias tape to the front of the skirt. Even though I had remembered to sew the short end first, I had not thought about what side the bias tape would be folding to. At this point when I stitched in the ditch on the inside of the skirt, the wavy part of the seam from catching the bias tape would be on the top side of the skirt in plain view. And the nice clean finish would be on the inside where no one could see it.

DSCN0601To fix this I could unpick the bias tape and sew it again, this time to the outside of the skirt and fold the bias tape to the inside. Rolling my eyes at the thought of unpicking all that bias tape, I thought of another plan. I would not finish the bias tape with a stitch in the ditch seam but sew a nice even edge on the top of the folded over bias tape. This way I would have a seam on the bias tape but it would not be wavy like the one I had sewn from the opposite side. The inside part would have the wavy seam instead. This worked out just great! My seam on the bias tape side is nice and smooth and even, but if you look inside you will see a seam that hits and misses the ditch between the bias tape and skirt. This is fine with me. It looks great on the outside and it still looks acceptable from the inside, and I did not have to unpick a single stitch.

DSCN0600Because I had attached the buttons and button holes while completing the bodice of this dress, the last step was to attach the skirt to the bodice. At this point I still had plenty of bias tape left so I decided to use it to finish this last seam attaching the skirt to the bodice too. Because this seam is inside the dress, I did not care which side had the clean finish and which side had the wavy seam, and using the bias tape did give the seam a nice beautiful finish. Note to myself – keep bias tape and Hong Kong seams in mind for finishing seams where a serged seam would be exposed.

DSCN0605This dress turned out so adorable once it was completed. I love the true camp collar and how much easier it was to sew than the collar the original pattern called for. With the changes that I made to this pattern, I will definitely be using this pattern again for future projects. I also love the Hong Kong seam of the skirt as well as the bias tape hem. I learned many sewing lessons from the construction of this dress, especially regarding the making of and the applying of bias tape. I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing it.

Until next time, sew forth and sew on.

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 2

DSCN0556When it came to making bias tape my first thought was just to purchase some, but then I stopped myself since I was supposed to be learning new sewing skills while making this project. Making bias tape was something I have never done before so now was a great time to learn.

The first step was to cut out strips of fabric on the bias. Since I had some white kitty fabric left, I decided to use it to make the bias tape with. I had no idea how much bias tape I needed for this project, but I had enough scraps to make 4 yards so that sounded like plenty. With the markings on my cutting table and my trusty metal ruler and my blade, it was easy to measure and cut the bias strips to the proper sizes.

DSCN0562Next came stitching the bias strips into one long piece. This took some thought. After thinking that I had the angles correct I sewed the pieces together, only to find out that I had not angled the strips correctly. A quick internet search taught me that the strips needed to be sewn at right angles. After learning how to sew them the right way, I unpicked and sewed the strips together correctly. The main thing I learned here that it is important to take the cutting of the strips seriously. Carefully cut strips out make it easier to sew the right angles.

DSCN0566Ironing the bias tape into its folded shape was the next step. Years ago, my mom gave me a bias tape maker. I promptly brought it home and tossed it in the closet with my other sewing notions. Now it was coming out of the closet and making its debut. It took a little bit of finagling to get the bias strip in the bias tape maker but once it was in, it was easy to see how the maker was going to fold the strip and make the forming and ironing of the bias tape DSCN0568easier.

 

While searching the internet on the angles, I did read that it was best to make one side of the bias tape larger than the other, not much, just enough to give you a little sewing edge. I decided to follow their advice. The ironing of the bias tape was time consuming but not difficult. Once again I learned that carefully cut strips and carefully sewn angles make it easier iron the folds. Accuracy is a key point of successful bias tape making.

In a short time, I had 4 yards of bias tape made and I was ready to start sewing the Hong Kong seams of the skirt.

Until then, sew forth on and bias on!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 1

S2907 - Version 2After enjoying altering a pattern that I had previously made, I turned my attention back to Simplicity 2907. I like the design of this little girls dress with the camp shirt attached to the drop waist skirt. What I did not like about the pattern was the bodice of the shirt being cut for a stand collar and then a camp collar being attached. So, I either needed to alter this pattern and give it a stand collar or cut the front to make it an actual camp collar. The camp collar on the dress is much cuter than a stand collar would be so I chose to make the alterations to the front of bodice by adding a facing. But there was more to be learned from the making of this dress. I decided to use Hong Kong seams to finish the seams of the skirt and this lead to the making of bias tape. This would be two new sewing skills, Hong Kong seams and making bias tape, for me. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start first with the alterations that I made.

DSCN0552The first steps were to select the fabric, alter the pattern, and cut the dress out. I knew I wanted to use up the kitty scraps from the wrap top I had made previously. And I wanted to make the front and back of bodice from the pink fabric and the sleeves and collar from the white, but that did not work out as I had hoped. As you may recall, the last time I made this dress, I used a thin yellow fabric for the bodice. After attaching the dropped waist skirt, I was afraid that the little girl’s panties would show through the yellow at the top of the skirt and I didn’t want to worry about that this time around. Using the pink for the front and the back would solve this, but DSCN0554I did not have enough scraps to do that. So, I picked the white for the front and the pink for the rest of the bodice pieces. At least the white kitty fabric is heavier than the yellow was so maybe there would not be a see through fabric problem with it. I found some scraps of denim in the stash for the skirt. I would not be lining the denim, so this would work great for the Hong Kong seams.

DSCN0604Altering the pattern was simple. I mirrored the front pattern piece to make an attached facing. Instead of the first steps in the sewing process being sewing the odd box shape and cutting the funny notch for the collar, I simply sewed a camp shirt top like I make for myself, with the folded over front facings to complete the bodice front, and a pieces of twill tape to complete the collar. I did not do Hong Kong seams on the bodice. I was saving those for the skirt. I was smart enough to make the buttonholes first before I attached the skirt so that there was no arguing with the bulk of the seam on the bottom buttonhole.

Soon enough, I had the bodice completed and it was time to sew the skirt. The first step would be to make bias tape. And that is a story for next time.

Until then, sew forth and camp collar on!

Catting Around With More Pleats – Part 2

DSCN0853DSCN0854With the bodice now completed, the skirt was next. Unlike the box pleated skirt that I made previously, I did not want a pleat at the center front and back and side seams of this skirt. I wanted the knife pleats to fold away from the center front and back. So, I started by pining these points, center front and back and side seams.

With the skirt divided into fourths, calculating the pleat became much easier. I started folding and found that two pleats per quarter would gather the skirt to the circumference of the bodice. I folded the pleats towards their respective side seams.

Once folded and pinned in place, I sewed around the top of the skirt to hold the pleats in place. With that, the knife pleats were done. I believe this skirt was easier to make than the box pleated skirt was because of the time that I spent and knowledge that I gained in making it. I had already experienced a lot of trial and error on the box pleated skirt, making this knife pleat skirt much easier to calculate.

DSCN0329This time I decided to not hem the lining and top fabric together. This also gave me an idea on how to make the stitch in the ditch seam easier. Instead of sewing the top fabric of the bodice to the skirt, folding the lining up and stitching in the ditch, I would sew the lining to the bodice, fold the top fabric up and sew around the folded fabric.

You would see the seam and there would be a fold, but I felt that would be fine. If it wasn’t fine, oh well, this was a trial dress to learn from and I wouldn’t do it that way again.

DSCN0330It felt odd sewing the lining to the bodice first. It felt like I was sewing it backwards. After completing the sewing, I ironed the seam up and ironed the fold in the top fabric of the bodice. I then positioned the folded top fabric over the lining/bodice seam and started sewing. There was a lot of play in the fabric, so I had to sew carefully to get a nice seam, with no folds or tucks.

With the stitch in the ditch seam, you can ignore a small tuck or fold or a crocked seam here and there because it is all done inside the dress. With the seam on the outside, there could be no tucks or folds or crocked seams since it would all be visible from the outside. Once this seam was sewn, I thought the look was good. The exposed seam and the fold looked fine. But, I don’t know that it was really any easier to sew than the stitch in the ditch seam due to the care that had to be taken sewing to this exposed seam.

DSCN0858DSCN0857I hemmed the lining 2 inches shorter than the top fabric so it would not be seen.

And with that done this dress was completed!

It turned out very cute. Cuter than I expected with the cats and the stars. The knife pleats came out great and the reversed stitch in the ditch seam looked fine. I hope some little girl will be happy wearing this dress.

Until next time, sew forth and cat on.