Sunday, August 26, 2012

If you thought I only make bubble dresses...

... you couldn't be more wrong!

I also make bubble skirts. Versatility is my middle name.

I made 6 of these last year in various fabrics, and now it's time for a new series. I made the first one in Okiko Azur from Belgian-Chinese fabric designers Petit Pan, bought at Juffertje Uil.

The model is very simple: big skirt, gathered at the bottom onto small lining, and an elastic in the bias-type waistband. I decided to make them a bit more bubbly than last year's, but I feel like I kind of pushed it a notch too far. I'll have to tone it down with the next five.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bubble dress: patterns and tutorial

Edit, March 19: the free bubble dress pattern has been replaced by an all new and improved version, which is sold via my patterns page for $8. My apologies to those of you who were 'lured' here via Pinterest by the promise of a free pattern - I cannot remove those pictures from Pinterest. To soothe your disappointment: you enjoy a $1 discount if you use the code PINTEREST.

So, how has the pattern been improved?
better sizing (the dress is longer for the higher ages)
more sizes: instead of 2y - 4y - 6y - 8y, it is now 1y - 18m - 2y - 3y - 4y - 5y - 6y.
- a peter pan collar, which you can choose to leave on or off
digitally drawn instead of hand drawn patterns
- much more detailed instructions 
- more information (table with sizing, table with yardage needed, printing and assembling instructions, cutting diagrams, etcetera)
- all information is now provided in inches/yards as well as centimeters

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gathering perfect ruffles (tutorial)

Today, I'd like to share a little trick I use to gather the perfect ruffles. There are plenty of great tutorials online for gathering ruffles, but this one specifically helps you ensure that your ruffles are divided equally over the entire length of your skirt/dress/whathever you’re making.

First, put the stitch length of your machine on (almost) the maximum length. Next, stitch one line about 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) of the edge of the fabric you want to gather, without stitching forward/backward at the beginning and end of the stitch. Leave a long tail of thread.
Next, stitch a parallel line at ½ inch from the edge, also without stitching forward/backward at beginning and end, and also leaving a long tail of thread. These are temporary lines which will be removed later on.

Divide your fabric in 4, 8, or 16 parts (depending how long it is). Do this by folding it in half, putting the side seams together (if applicable), and pinning in the folds you create. Then, fold the ‘halfs’ in half, and next those halfs in half, until you get parts of somewhere between 8 and 15 centimeters (3 and 6 inches).

Now, take the piece of fabric onto which you will stitch the gathered part (the lining, in most cases). Divide this into the same amount of parts by using the same technique. Evidently, these parts will be smaller than those you made in step 2.

Next, gather the first piece of fabric by pulling both threads at the same time. Shift the fabric so that the gathers are more or less evenly spaced. At this point, it is better to gather too much rather than too little.

Now it is time to pin the gathered fabric on the other fabric. Use the pins you put in steps 2 and 3 to help you to space the ruffles perfectly. So pin 1 in the gathered fabric will go together with pin 1 in the other fabric, pin 2 with pin 2, and so on.

Finally, change the stitch length on your machine to normal again, and prepare to stitch the fabrics together right between the two temporary lines you made in step 1.
Put you needle in the fabric at the beginning (pin 1), and lift up the presser foot. Take the fabric between thumb and index finger at the next pin (pin 2), and pull carefully until both pieces are equal in length. Next, divide the ruffles equally between pin 1 and pin 2 (I use a seam ripper to shift the fabric, but you can also do this with your fingers of course). Then stitch from pin 1 to pin 2. 

Repeat step 6 for al the next parts (between pin 2 and 3, then between pin 3 and 4, and so on).

Remove the temporary lines you stitched in step 1. Admire your perfectly gathered ruffles. Excitedly show them to your boyfriend/husband/next of kin, and wonder how they can remain so indifferent to your exceptional sewing talents. The end.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Violette in Mitsi

A few months ago, I bought half a metre of the Liberty of London fabric Mitsi at Fabrique Romantique. I had the perfect model in mind for it - a dress with a short bodice, high gathered skirt, and short sleeves - but couldn't immediately find a pattern which represented that model. Eventually, I bought Citronille's Violette. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I could turn it into my dream model with some simple adaptations (shorter bodice, higher skirt, shorter sleeves, basically ;-)). Plus, after spotting this dress, I fell in love with the original pattern also.

The first version I made was a complete failure: the dress was too wide, and the neck opening way too small.     I had to disassemble the thing almost entirely, and start over again. Luckily, the second attempt was much better.


Norah showed her hidden talents as a stylist, by suggesting to blow bubbles during our little 'shoot'. Great idea, sweety!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A dress for Sevilla weather

We spent the past week in Sevilla, soaking up some much needed sun. What a gorgeous city! Its classical architecture reminded me of Vienna, except that most of the buildings or yellow and orange, instead of white.

Before we left, I made a quick summer's dress for Norah. The smocked dress Heather Ross presented at Martha Stewart's show a few years ago is simple, easy, and always beautiful. The fabric I used is some cheap broderie anglaise.

The fun thing about this dress is that you can vary endlessly with the straps. I made mine a little different from the original.