Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Peplum Top Pattern Hack

With peplums being so hot I couldn't help but make a peplum top for one of my girls.  And if you knew the project would come out looking like this, wouldn't you make one too?

This is my favorite pattern hack to date. Yes, that's a pattern hack, because I couldn't find a peplum top pattern for little girls. There's some great ones for women, but nothing smaller.   It was super easy though.  I attached a flared skirt to a little girls' dress bodice.   the back seam has a gap at the neck rather than the zipper and the zipper was moved to the side seam.  If I do it again I'll go ahead and leave the zipper in the back seam.  I like how it is now, but my girl finds it a little more difficult to put the top on.  

Don't you adore that peter pan collar?  None of my little girl dress patterns came with a peter pan collar, so I drafted this one myself.  My first attempt wasn't quite right, but the second collar fit perfectly.  It's exactly what the top needed.  (This tutorial from Burda Style is pretty similar to the technique I used, just in case your little girl dress patterns don't  have collars either.)  I finished the neck edge with single fold bias tape rather than drafting a facing.  It makes it more comfortable for her to wear.

There is something just so retro about this top and I love that.  I love the white piping at the waist.  That was a last minute addition and I'm glad I did it.  I didn't have any white piping on hand, but I did have piping cord (left overs from a project from many years ago) so i made some piping for it.  I had just enough white fabric to do it.

The fabric is  polished cotton with a nice stiff hand.  the skirt stands away from the bodice all on it's own.  I think that's the secret to a great peplum.  It should have some body to it so you get the full effect.  Something with a soft drape wouldn't quite work here.   Poplin, linen, polished cotton all are good fabric choices.  When choosing the bodice pattern, choose one with a bodice that reaches the true waist and fits somewhat close to the body.  You want around 1 1/2 to 2" of ease.

So how does one go about making a peplum top for a little girl?  It takes some math, so grab your scientific calculator, pencil, and pattern drafting fabric and let's get to work.

We'll be drafting a flared skirt, so we'll need to figure radius from circumference and circumference from radius.  If you don't remember from your high school days, the radius is the distance from the center of the circle to the edge.  Circumference is the distance around the edge of the circle.   The formula you need to know is C=p2r.  Circumference is C and r is radius.   You should know how to find and use the pi button on your calculator.  (You could also use an online calculator like this one.)

1.  First you need to know the exact dimension of the bodice waist.  So get to work and cut out your bodice.  Measure around the waist right at the seam line on both the bodice front and back.  If the bodice front and bodice back are two different lengths, you will need to make two different pattern pieces.  Start with the bodice front waist length. Subtract the seam allowance.  Multiply the result by 2.  This is the circumference of the first circle you will draw.  Plug this number into your calculator.  Divide by pi.  Now divide the result by 2.  This is Radius #1.

2.  Using this radius measurement, draw a half-circle on your pattern drafting paper.  I like to use a string tied around a pencil.  Just tie a non-stretchy string to a pencil.  Measure the string and hold at the radius measurement.  Mark your center point.  Hold the string down with one hand on the center point, and hold the pencil out with the string tight.  Now draw a half-circle with your makeshift compass.   This is the seam line for your peplum skirt.

3.  Now decide how long you want your skirt to be.  We went with a 6" skirt.  It was a great length for a little girl.  Hold a measuring tape up to your girl and decide where you want it to be.   Add that length+0.625 to Radius #1.  This is Radius #2.  (the 0.625 is your 5/8" hem.)

4.  Hold the string from your compass at the center point so that the string is the Length of Radius #2.  Draw another half circle.   This is the cut edge of your circle.

5.  Subtract 0.625 from Radius #1.   Draw yet one more half circle with this length radius.  It should be 5/8" inside the seam line half circle (the first one you drew.)   This is the inside cut edge.

6.  You should have a basic half circle.  Now we are going to add the side seams to your pattern.   On the flat sides.  Extend the  circumference of your circles by 5/8".  Draw a straight line connecting these.  You should end up with a pattern that looks something like this (not to scale, obviously):
7.  If your bodice back and bodice front have two different waist lengths, go back and draft the bodice back using the same steps you used for the bodice front.   

8. If you want to put the zipper in the back seam you will need to add a seam to the back center peplum piece. On the bodice back, fold the pattern in half.   Draw a new line right at the line of symmetry (the fold line.)  Extend the circle out 5/8" on each cut edge and connect them with a straight line.  You should have a pattern that looks like this:

If  you are going to do a side zipper, you do not have to put the center seam in the back peplum piece (step 8.) When sewing the bodice, follow the original pattern directions but do not sew the left side seam and leave the top 3" of the back seam unsewn.  Sew a button right at the neck and a little elastic loop on the other side.  Sew the right side seam of your peplum.  Sew the peplum to the bodice (be sure to sew piping to the bodice first if you are using it.)   Now install an invisible zipper in the left side seam.  It should be long enough to start less than an inch from the under arm and stop two to three inches into the peplum.  Finish the side seam and hem the peplum.  

If you are going to put the zipper in the center back, follow the original bodice instructions.  Then sew the peplum side seams and sew it to the bodice (adding the piping to the waist seam before sewing in the peplum if using.)  You should have an unsewn back bodice seam.  Install an invisible zipper long enough to reach from the top of the back seam to three to four inches into the peplum.  Finish the back seam and hem the peplum. 

You're done!

PS.  You can use the drafting method to make a true circle skirt any length you like.   

If you make your girl a peplum skirt, please post a link.  I'd love to see it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Drape neck top and python jeans

I just love the stuff young teenagers can get away with.  They can walk the very edge of the trends because they have such a sense of fun.  Their energy  makes just about everything workable.   Case in point, bright nearly neon python print jeans.

That's Burda 9500 for the jeans.   It was easy to work with and fits pretty well.  It is designed for a younger figure.  My 13 year old started growing her grown up figure this summer so the seat of the pants was a little too flat for her.  We took in the waist, but if I were to make them again, I would cut the back yoke 1/2" taller in the center and grade into that from the sides.  She needed the extra coverage there.   

I asked her to do some model poses for me, which got me a duck face . . . and then a laugh.

 Love it.

 I took the time to do true flat felled seams everywhere I could.  Then I top stitched in hot pink top stitching thread.  Coats and Clark has added some great colors to their jeans threads lately and the hot pink was absolutely perfect for these pants.

I am pretty darn proud of that top.  I designed the pattern myself from scratch.  I used an old book called Debbie Moore's Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking to draft the pattern.  I worked directly from Marilla's measurements and created a basic bodice first.  (The method was similar to this one.) Then I followed the instructions in the book on how to convert it to a drape neck top and add drop sleeves.  I did about three drafts of the pattern and four muslins (good thing I had a ton of knit too small to use for anything else stashed around here) also working from the fact that we found the jersey knit fabric on the same day we bought the denim.  It was in the remnants bin and there was not enough to cut sleeves, hence the drop sleeve.  I'm really happy with how it came out.   My sister even took a tracing of the pattern for her very style conscious 15 year old girl who loved the shirt too.

I love it when my first try at something comes out so great.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chevron Messenger Bag

My oldest left this morning for college.  She and her daddy packed up the van, threw her bike on the back and off they went to her new adventure.  She is thrilled and excited.
This summer she requested a new book bag for college.  I made her last book bag, not only did she love it, it lasted five years of hard use. Naturally she wanted another one just like it.  This time instead of solid color (olive green canvas) she wanted a fun print.  

I love this chevron print.  It's youthful and current.  Perfect for a freshman on her own for the first time.  The fabric is also perfect because it's outdoor fabric with an easy care coating so she should just be able to clean it up with a damp cloth.
I even made a special water bottle pocket to fit her water bottle, which she left behind at home, of course.  Good thing it will fit just about any water bottle. 

Construction details:  It's 16x12 with pockets all over the place and a padded pocket inside for her computer.  The base has six large purse feet to keep it off the classroom floor.  It also has a plastic piece in the bottom so the bottom won't sag when it's fully loaded.
You can see the strap construction here and in the previous photo.  I found these awesome swivel clips and matching D rings and a slide so she could have an easily adjustable strap.  Who knows how she'll need to carry it?  Easy versatility is always best.
Here's a close up of the front 6" pocket.  It's got a zipper right at the upper edge to help keep things inside and still be easy access.  The back of the bag has a similar pocket that's 16"x10" with a zipper all the way across. There are also about eight pen pockets on this bag in various places.

The inside of the bag has even more pockets with some big enough for paperwork and a few smaller ones as well.  There at the bottom of the photo is the computer pocket.  We had a padded computer envelope that didn't quite fit her computer.  I cut it apart and used it to pad the front and back of the pocket.  for the sides and bottom I used a thin, dense upholstery foam doubled up.  It's closed with a simple Velcro tab.

She loves the bag and I am glad I got it done just in time for her to take it with her.  Now I just have to get the rest of the sewing she left for me done.  Between the three girls, I have a huge stack of sewing projects to do.  Some are done and I'll show off those soon (middle girl's first day of school outfit is completely home sewn!)  There's still a huge pile to get to, though.  I told my oldest I would have to send monthly care packages with her other projects in them.  The first one will also have all the stuff she forgot to take with her.  Since one of those things is her jacket, I think I had better get something done for a box soon.

PS:  My son wants a bag just like it (minus the cute, girly chevrons), so I'll be posting a detailed tutorial on how to make one yourself in a month or so.  It's got a lot a steps, but is pretty doable.  Since everything is rectangles, you don't even need a pattern to make it.