Tag Archive | tunic

The French Box Top

DSCN0651Having successfully completes the box pleat skirt for the little girls dress that I recently made, I wanted to continue practicing by making more box pleats. With that, I picked this box pleated top as my next project. It only had one box pleat so it would be a fast sew, but I would still be practicing another box pleat. Because I felt comfortable with sewing the box pleat, I decided to finish the seams off with French seams. This top would then give me practice on two sewing techniques that I had already tried, but that I could still use some practice in making.

DSCN0661The pattern for this top was a free one that I found online. I had just enough ladybugs and green cotton scraps left over to make this top with. So I printed out the pattern, taped it together and cut it out. As I cut out the paper pattern, I noticed that the facing and the front pieces of the top did not match up. I knew that if I cut the pattern out based on the pattern pieces, I would have a mess with mismatched facings, and I would get flustered while sewing this together and not get good results. Knowing this, I discarded the facings pieces from the pattern and just used the top pieces to cut a facing instead.

Sewing the top started with the French seams to piece the ladybug fabric and green cotton fabrics together. The French seams came out great! They are clean and finished. Since the green cotton is heavier than the ladybug fabric, I sewed the French seams to the green cotton rather than the other way around.

DSCN0212Next came sewing the box pleat. This time, I sewed the seam down the back of the pleat, flattened the pleat and then stitched across the top of the pleat to secure it. I did not top stitch the box onto the pleat like I did for the skirt. I wanted the pleat to open up if needed on this top.

DSCN0250Next up, I sewed the shoulder seams and then it was time to apply the facings. After reading the pattern guide for how to sew the facings, I decided the pattern guides instructions would not work for me. So I threw the pattern guide away along with the facings pieces from the pattern. I decided to sew the facing to the top as I had learned from making the bodices of the dresses that I had made before. I sewed around the neck and down the back, and then around the arms. Next, I stitched the side seams together. Because the side seams were exposed after the facing ended, I did a French seam for the side seams. But, as I tried to sew the French side seam down, I ran into trouble. The French side seam on top of the French piecing seams was just too thick. I broke 3 needles before I gave up and decided not to stitch down the French side seams. I don’t believe that having the side seams not stitched down will affect the wearing of this top. Next, I hemmed the facing.

DSCN0653Once again because the facing did not extend to the bottom of the top and because I had abandoned the pattern guides instructions, half of the back seams were left exposed. So to finish off the edge, I folded the edge over on each side of the back. This gave me four layers of fabric at the top where the facings are and two layers down below the facings. I did not apply any interfacing to the button placket because of the 4 layers, but as I sewed the buttonholes and buttons to the top, I wished that I had added some interfacing below the facing where the top was only two layers thick, especially on the thinner ladybug fabric. The buttons and buttonholes came out fine even without the interfacing. There was no way my buttonholer would sew over the French seams, so I had to carefully measure and place the buttonholes so that I would not have an issue making them or sewing on the buttons. The last steps were to hem the bottom of the top and topstitch around the arms and neck.

DSCN0655I am pleased with the end results of this top. It was great to practice with the box pleats and French seams, but what I am most proud of is that I was able to identify the pitfalls of the pattern and the construction early on in the project. And that I was able to use my sewing knowledge to circumvent them instead of suffering through them, and to find a better way for me to complete the project. Usually if there is a hard way to do something, that’s my way of doing it, but this time that was not true. I hope I can keep up this forethought momentum as I move on to my next project.

Until next time, sew forth and box top on.

Another Bubble – Part 3, The Buttons

DSCN0544I was very unhappy with the serged seam that I got when attaching the bodice and skirt together on this bubble top. It is bulky and heavy and did not serge well. I think it is ugly. Even after top stitching it down to the bodice, it isn’t the result that I wanted. I had wasted my time and webbing worrying about the thread of the embroidery design under the lining being uncomfortable when this serged seam is far more of a problem that the threads would be.

One reason why this seam is so awful compared to the same seam on the first bubble top is the bulk of the bodice fabric. Rather than using a thin lining fabric for the bodice, I used the same fabric for both the top fabric and the lining of the DSCN0549bodice. This fabric is heavier than a lining fabric would have been. So by the time I was ready to serge this seam together, it was four pieces of fabric thick. Unlike on the last bubble top where all four of the fabrics were thin, three of the fabrics on this top were heavier fabrics, two of which were significantly heavier. It gave me food for thought on what not to do for the next bubble top. It also gave me another reason to make a third bubble top. If I am using a heavier fabric, I may want to do the stitch in the ditch type of seam rather than the serged seam to finish this part of the top.

DSCN0540Because I did not have the expected overlap for the buttons and buttonholes, I made the buttonholes vertical. But with the bulky serged seam attaching the bodice and skirt together, I could not make the first buttonhole as close to the seam as I would have liked. So this top only got two buttons instead of three and they were not stitched where I would have liked them to be. I don’t believe the button placement will affect the wearing of this top though. I think that part will be just fine. Even more food for thought on the next bubble top though. Perhaps I need to do the buttonholes before attaching the bodice and skirt, or solve the overlap problem first and then make horizontal buttonholes.

DSCN0533This bubble top was a huge learning experience for me, just like most of my sewing projects are. This top has convinced me that another bubble top is in my sewing future. I believe there are still things to learn from this pattern. Even with the issues that I will change on the next bubble top, this top is still very cute and I think will wear well.

I hope that some little girl will enjoy wearing it!

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!

Another Bubble – Part 2, The Skirt

DSCN0543Sewing the skirt for this top was the next step. I remembered this time that I wanted to make sure and iron the hem before I stitched the skirt to the bodice. But after doing so I quickly learned that, no, I did not want to iron the hem before I stitched it to the bodice. Ironing the seam just smashed the gathers and flattened the bubble. So, after ironing the hem, I had to try to fluff the hem enough to get the bubble back.

One thing I wanted to do better on the next bubble top was to finish the ends of the serging on the seam attaching the bodice and skirt together. Because the serging is exposed and not hidden with a stitch in the ditch seam, I wanted a clean serged edge once I was done sewing it. After doing a little internet searching, I found two techniques for finishing off serging that I wanted to try on this top.

DSCN0157The first technique started with serging a chain of thread. Then the fabric is placed under the presser foot of the serger and the chain of thread is pulled around and laid on top of the fabric between where the needles will be stitching and where the blade will be cutting. As the serger stitched, the chain laid under the loop stitches, leaving a clean starting edge. This technique worked well for the start of the serging, but it would not work well for ending the serging so that is where the second technique came in.

DSCN0159For the second finishing technique, the fabric is serged right to the end, the presser foot lifted and the fabric pulled around, flipped over and placed back under the pressure foot. The next step is to serge down the already serged seam a couple of inches and then serge off the edge. This technique left a rough edge at the end of the serging, but not where the serging is exposed at the end of the seam. This technique worked well at the end of the serging but it would not work well when the serging starts.

So, between the two techniques, I had much cleaner looking serged exposed edges when finished. I still need to practice with both techniques some more before I would say that I am proficient at using either one. And so that is yet another reason that I will be making another bubble top in the very near future.

Next up, part 3, the buttons.

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!


Another Bubble – Part 1, The Bodice

DSCN0533I love fabric. I love it so much that I hate to throw away any scraps. I measure and debate way too long about my scraps before they hit the garbage can. What could I make from these scraps? Is it large enough for another project? Will I want to piece it together with another fabric later? As I contemplated the fate of the scraps from my blue shirt with white sleeves, I decided there was enough scraps of the blue print and white fabric left to make another bubble top. There was not enough for a size 6 like the last pink and white bubble top, but enough for a size 3, so I reprinted the pattern and got started.

Because it has not been so long since I made the last bubble top, I remembered the things I wanted to do differently on the next one I made. While cutting out the bodice I added 1 inch to the back pieces of the bodice so there was fabric to cross over for the buttons. I also cut a 1 inch strip of interfacing and ironed it to the back bodice pieces to give a little extra support for the buttons and buttonholes. The rest of the top was cut the same as the pattern called for.

DSCN0538Since the bodice was made from the white scraps of the sleeves of my shirt, it needed something embroidered on it. The picnic ant design from my last shirt would work great and match the red in the blue fabric. Embroidering the design became the first step in the sewing process, which was odd. Usually embroidering a design on something I make is one of the last steps in the sewing process. I did iron some webbing on the back of the design to help smooth the threads even though there is a lining for the bodice that would hide the threads. This design would be against the little girl’s chest, and I did not want bumpy thread to be uncomfortable when the top is worn.

The bodice stitched up fine. When I had finished sewing it, I laid it out on the cutting table. There was a good two inches of overlap at the buttons. What had happened? Had I mis-measured? Maybe adding a whole inch was too much? I flipped the bodice inside out and cut 1/2 inch off my added inch and restitched. Laying it out again, I now had a 1&1/2 inch overlay. What? At this point I decided that maybe I cut the first bubble top wrong and that was why there was no overlap for the buttons, or maybe the size 6 pattern line was off leaving no overlap. So, I flipped the bodice inside out again and cut off 1/2 inch more. Cutting off the extra inch also cut off my P1040331interfacing so I had to reapply more interfacing for the buttons and buttonholes. I restitched the seam and turn the bodice right side out again. Guess what! It now had no overlap. What? This was going to require more thought than I wanted to give at that moment. The bodice was the same as the first bubble top. The extra inch had been cut off. Since I wanted to keep sewing and not solve this problem at that time, I decided that another bubble top was in my future where I would address the back overlap issue. Since I could not add the cut off inch back to the bodice, I would just finish off this top the way it was. It would just have the side seam issue of the first bubble top that I had made.

Stay tuned for Part 2, the skirt.

Until next time, sew forth and bubble on!

The Bubbles, The Bubbles

P1040493Hurray! It was time again for some fun sewing. I remembered many months ago that I had purchased some girl’s dress patterns from an etsy seller. One of the patterns, the Izzy tunic, was more of a top than a dress, but it was constructed like the dresses that I had just previously made. The big difference is in the skirt. Instead of a typical gathered skirt, this skirt bubbles at the hem due to a short lining to give it a full and bouncy look. I was super excited to make this top at the time I purchased the pattern but it got pushed out of mind by other projects at the time. Now that I wanted something fun to sew, the bubble top was at the top of my to sew list.

P1040495It was not hard to pick a fabric from the stash to make this top. I had purchased this fabric many years ago at a thrift store and it has lived in the stash since then. This fabric is thin and sheer but in this case that’s a good thing. This top is fully lined and the light weight would add to the bubble effect. The only problem with this fabric was that I forgot it was just scraps and not actual yardage. Because of that, this piece of fabric would not be wide enough for the the skirt. So I debated about picking another fabric instead, but then I decided to add a center and back seam to the skirt. The print of the fabric and the gathers of the skirt would hid these seams. Besides this was just a muslin of a new pattern, and the fabric was really going to be cute made up in this pattern. Because of the lack of fabric, I had to pick a different piece for the lining of the skirt. I found a sheer white that was the same feel and weight to use for the lining.

P1040328With the cutting complete, I started to sew. Following the pattern guide, the bodice stitched together nicely. One thing I did notice though was that the front and back of the bodice matched exactly. There was no overlap in the back for the buttons. To apply the buttons, I would need to pull the back pieces across each other, pulling the side seam away from the true sides where they needed to be. I picked smaller size buttons to help minimize the amount that needed to be crossed over to make the buttons and buttonholes. When I make another one of these bubble tops, I will add 1 inch to the P1040331back bodice pieces so there is overlap for the buttons. Note to self- make a notation on the pattern to add this inch to the back pieces of the bodice. Jumping ahead, after sewing the buttonholes and buttons, I learned that a little interfacing in these spots would have been nice. Although the buttons and buttonholes stitched fine and look good, a little interfacing there to support this shear fabric through wear and tear is needed. Next note to self, add 1 inch of interfacing to the add 1 inch of fabric where the buttons and buttonholes are being sewn.

The hem was next. To get the bubble hem, the skirt fabric was simply gathered to match the lining. Another note to self -remember to iron this hem seam before sewing the skirt to the bodice. I did not and trying to iron this seam and hem later and not ruin the bubble is difficult to say the least.

P1040338When it came to the skirt. I did not like the way the pattern finished the back seam. The pattern called for a scrap of fabric to be placed on the back of the skirt, a dart stitched, cut and the scrap turned inside to complete the seam. This step reminded me of sewing slit tab front shirts. Since I already had a back seam due to the lack of fabric in the skirt, I decided to complete the back seam like the other dress I had made. I cut the lining fabric down the center back, then stitched it back together, stopping two inches before the top. I then stitched the back seam of the skirt fabric together stopping two inches before the top. After pressing and completing the hem, I matched the top of the back seams, and stitched around the open two inches to complete the back seam.

P1040489To attach the skirt to the bodice, the skirt fabric is first gathered to match the lining and then both skirt and lining are gathered to match the bodice. I used the floss method for all the gathers on this top. It works well for me. Unlike the previous dresses with the stitch in the ditch seam to complete the bodice, this pattern instructed that the both the fabric and lining of the bodice should be sewn to the skirt at the same time. This seam was then finished with the serger, pressed towards the bodice and then top stitched in place. I could have done the stitch in the ditch seam, only sewing the fabric of the bodice to the skirt, pressing the lining up to finish its edge, and then stitching in the ditch from the front catching the lining underneath, for what some would call a cleaner finish but I wanted to see how this way would turn out. It is a far simpler way of attaching the skirt and bodice and was how I was going to finish the P1040491previous dress except I thought I needed to perfect the stitch in the ditch seam. Yes, this method of attaching the skirt to the bodice was much simpler and faster and yes, has a much uglier view from the inside but I don’t believe with have any affect on the wearing of this top. I feel that this top will wear just as well with an ugly inside seam as finished stitch in the ditch seam.

With all my notes to self that I made, you know I want to make this top again. My desire to make this top again is helped by the fact that top turned out to be absolutely adorable. I can’t wait for some little girl to wear it. Even with my changes to the pattern, I know the next top will sew up much quicker and easier and will be great fun to make. I am so excited to get sewing on the next one!

Until next time, sew forth and sew on!