Posts Tagged 'tutorial'

Letter Tee Tutorial (Finally!)

It’s about time! I’ve been promising to do this tutorial for awhile, and I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath, right?!? All this talk of coordinated family-members lit a fire under me, so here it is, the Letter Tee Tutorial. I know this might look intimidating, but it’s not hard. Do NOT be afraid of knits. When it comes to making a simple tee-shirt — which this is, essentially, along with some applique thrown in — knits are really very easy to work with. It does take a little practice, and a little nerve, but you can do it. I wrote this tutorial with the beginner in mind; if you don’t know how to make a ribbed collar, you will. If you don’t know how to put together a basic tee shirt, you will. And if you don’t know how to use paper-backed fusible webbing, you will. So take a breath, take your time, and enjoy.

Click here for the Letter Tee Tutorial


The Summer Necessity Swimsuit Tutorial!!!

Because I had such trouble finding a tutorial on how to make a child’s swimsuit, I decided to write down the steps to make the simple swimsuit I created for my daughter. You can use these same steps to make a suit for your child or even for yourself! This method uses folded-over elastic rather than ribbing, so it really is fast and easy!

So here you go . . .


First, you’ll need a pattern for your swimsuit. I made my pattern by tracing a dance leotard and adjusting it a little by holding it against my daughter.  You could also trace out a swimsuit that fits well (this is the easiest method — seriously, just lay it down and trace it out, stretching the edges so they lay flat), or even head into your favorite store and find a suit you like and “borrow” its shape. If you have absolutely nothing you can use, you can try putting your child in a tank and underwear and tracing out the shape of those items while she’s wearing them, like this:


Only trace out one half of each pattern piece; you will place it on the fold when you’re cutting out your swimsuit. Also, be sure that the length of the sides and the width of the shoulders and crotches are the same for both the front and the back pattern pieces that you make (this width also needs to be around 1.5″ or more to accommodate the elastic when it’s folded over).  You can decide for yourself whether or not to add seam allowances; swimsuit fabric has a lot of stretch, so unless your suit pattern is very, very snug, they’re not really necessary. To be certain your suit pattern will fit well, you might want to make a “muslin” out of an old t-shirt.

Okay, now that you have your pattern, let’s get started!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Swimsuit Fabric (1/2 yard for up to size 6, bigger children will need more fabric)
Swimsuit Lining Fabric (Optional — same amount as swimsuit fabric)
Swimsuit Pattern
Ballpoint Pins (pins for knit fabric)
Elastic (I used 3/8 inch “swimsuit elastic,” and it’s fabulous, but 3/8″ knit elastic will also work)
Rotary Cutter (Optional)

*** Please note; I used a 3/8″ seam allowance for my suit unless otherwise noted, but you are welcome to use one you are more comfortable with; swimsuit material has so much stretch that small changes in seam allowances do not make a big difference. You do, however, want the shoulders and crotch of your swimsuit pattern to be at least 1.5″ wide to accommodate the elastic once it’s folded over.***
***Another quick note: I used lining in my swimsuit, but you don’t have to. If you decide not to, just skip the steps that involve sewing the crotch seam in the lining and basting the lining to the wrong side of the swimsuit fabric.***
***Okay, last note, I promise — Click on any of the pictures below to see them larger.***

1. Lay each pattern out on the fold of the fabric. Swimsuit fabric has 4-way stretch, so it doesn’t matter which orientation your fold is — horizontal or vertical — unless your fabric has a directional print, then you need to make the fold parallel to the direction of the print. I did mine this way to conserve fabric. Cut out the pieces. Because swimsuit fabric is slippery, I like to use my rotary cutter rather than scissors to cut it out because the fabric shifts less.

2. If you are using a lining, lay out your pattern and cut it out as well.

3. Now make sure you have four pieces; a swimsuit front and back and a lining front and back.

4. Sew crotch of swimsuit together, right sides together. Do the same with the lining.

5. Now you have two pieces instead of four. Lay the lining over the suit, matching crotch seams and with wrong sides together.

6. Match the edges all along the suit and lining.

7. Starting at the crotch seam, baste with 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the whole front and back of the suit and lining. To baste, you turn your stitch length up as high as you can and sew without backstitching. The swimsuit lining will stretch and shift slightly as you baste, but don’t worry; it has a lot of stretch, so feel free to shift and stretch it to match the edge of the swimsuit fabric when you need to. This is a very important step; it will make the rest of your sewing on this project much, much easier.

8. Your suit should now look like this:

9. Now measure around your child’s thigh along her panty line. I just hold the elastic up against her leg rather than using a tape measure. Cut two of these lengths.

10. Stretch each length of elastic across the leg holes against the wrong side (lining side) of the suit, matching sides and centers of elastic strip and leg hole. Pin.

11. Back stitch (sew forward and back a few times) at the beginning of the elastic and leghole. Then strrrreeeeetch the elastic as you sew it just inside the edge of the material using a zigzag stitch (that is no wider than the elastic) or a serger. Be careful to stay inside the edge of the leg hole; you don’t want to miss any of the swimsuit material as you’re stretching and sewing the elastic. Zig zag or serge all the way to the end of the leg hole, stretching and sewing as you go, and back stitch when you reach the end. Do this on both legholes.

12. Your suit’s legholes now look like this:

13. Sew your suit’s shoulders together, right sides together.

14. Measure armhole elastic against your child (place it along where you’d like the armhole to fall) and cut two of these lengths.

15. Pin elastic along armholes as with legholes, matching sides and centers. Sew as before — backstitch, stretch, and sew using a zigzag stitch.

16. Your armholes now look like this:

17. At edge of one armhole, fold elastic over once on wrong side of fabric and pin.

18. Topstitch on right side of fabric using a longer stitch (3+) or a zigzag stitch that’s no larger than the width of the elastic. Stretch the elastic as you sew, just like before. Do this on both armholes and leg holes.

19. Your suit now looks like this:

20. Cut elastic about 1/2″-1″ shorter than the neck opening and stitch it together into a circle.

21. Match centers and sides of elastic circle with centers and sides of neck hole on wrong side (lining side) of suit. I like to put the elastic’s seam at the back of the suit. Sew, as before, by backstitching and stretching as you sew using a zigzag stitch or a serger.

22. Your suit now looks like this:

23. Fold over and topstitch the neck elastic just as you did with the armhole and leghole elastic.

24. Your suit now looks like this:

25. Pin side seams together, right sides together, and stitch.

26. Once side seams are stitched, fold their seam allowances to one side along each seam and pin.

27. Tack these seam allowances down using a few stitches forward and back.

28. It’s helpful to remove the basting around the neckhole (and the armhole and legholes, although this isn’t totally necessary) to allow the material there to fully stretch. If you try to pull the suit on and the openings won’t stretch enough, this is why.


Your finished suit should look something like this:

and this:

Hurray for you! You just made a swimsuit! Now go try it out in the pool!!!

“Summer Day Dress” Tutorial Featured on “One Pretty Thing”

Have you checked out all the crafty goodness over at One Pretty Thing? This amazing blog contains a gazillion beautiful craft projects and is updated — I kid you not — DAILY. Yes, Rachel over at One Pretty Thing has achieved what most of us bloggers can only dream of with her daily Do-It-Yourself compilations, weekly themed round-ups, and weekend flickr features.

And today my Summer Day Dress Tutorial was featured on the Daily Do-It-Yourself! Now I know that may not seem like a big deal for you, but this is little old me, a mom of four who feels a strong sense of achievement when I get all four kids dressed and ready to go in the morning, so to have so many people view my project is wonderful. Yes, I know the picture Rachel chose to use as a thumbnail is horrible, but oh well. I have to take what I can get.

So, if you’re coming here from One Pretty Thing, welcome and thanks so much for stopping by! And if you’re not here from Rachel’s site and feel like visiting the mecca of beautiful craft projects, head on over to view the rest of today’s featured projects and more!


Summer Day Dress Tutorial!

Remember the Girls’ Tee Dress, modeled after THIS at Target ? Well, I finally got around to putting together a tutorial on it! It’s a large pdf, put together by literally cutting and pasting the pictures and directions onto actual paper due to some pretty severe computer issues (like, buy a new hard drive computer issues.  Aaack!). The file itself is very detailed and intended for beginning sewists with instructions on how to gather, how to make a simple hem, etc. I hope you enjoy it, and please comment or email with any questions you have!

Madeline’s Summer Day Dress Tutorial

Thanks for visiting! If you’re still looking for more crafty goodness, check out my Earth Day Giveaway this week. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Find more adorable projects at . . .

The Girl Creative

Happy Halloween! *’Costume Ball’ Tutorial*

Happy Halloween Everyone! I hope your October is going well! If you’re still in need of a quick, easy, inexpensive costume, check out this soccer ball tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions! ****Scroll Down for more pictures and variations*****


*Materials Needed: 1 yard 72-inch white felt, 1/2 yard black felt, 4 inches black or white 1-inch braided elastic, white thread, black thread, poly-fil

1. Figure out how big you want the ball part of the costume to be, i.e the diameter of the ball. You want it to be a little wider than your child’s waist, but not so long that he can’t walk or go to the bathroom/get his diaper changed. I measured my son from about his shoulders to his hip bone, which was 11.5 inches.

2. Figure out the circumference of your ball based on the diameter you measured. I used the circumference calculator at and got 36.1 inches.

Divide this number by 8 (the number of sections your ball will have) and by 2 (the halves of your ball). For me, this was 4.5 inches and 18 inches.

3. Add 1 inch to each of these figures to account for 1/2 inch seam allowances on each side. Use this to draft your pattern on whatever paper you have — pattern paper, newspaper, grocery sack paper, whatever. Draw a line the length of your first, larger calculation (which for me was 19 inches) and another line the length of your second, smaller calculation (which for me was 5.5 inches) crossing the first line at its center. Connect the end points of the line to make a long petal shape. Make sure your curves are clean so your ball will be nice and round. You can just draw one half or even one quarter of your pattern and then fold it over to do the rest so it will be symmetrical.


Two lines -- (circumference/2)+1 inches by (circumference/8)+1 inches.  Connect end points.

Two lines -- (circumference/2)+1 inches by (circumference/8)+1 inches. Connect end points.


4. Draft the pattern for the back of the ball halves which will rest against your child’s body. Take your original diameter, add 1 inch to account for seam allowances, and draw a circle with that diameter. I did this by just drawing a bunch of diameters and connecting them.

5. Now cut out your felt. Cut 8 of the petal-shaped pieces and two of the circles. Also cut a few strips of white felt about 2 by 7 or 8 inches wide for the shoulders of your costume. Set the circles and strips aside for later.


Cut 8 petal pieces.  You can fold over the felt and cut two at a time.

Cut 8 petal pieces. You can fold over the felt and cut two at a time.


6. Put the petal sections together in sets of two, and pin them along one of their long sides. You should have 4 sets of two petals pinned together.


Pin your petal pieces together in sets of two.

Pin your petal pieces together in sets of two.


7. Sew the sides you have pinned using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


Sew along the side you pinned using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Sew along the side you pinned using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


8. Open up the sets. You should now have four pieces instead of eight. Again, sandwich and pin pin the sets together along one long side, right sides facing (the seam allowances should be facing out with the pretty side on the inside of the sandwich. When you do this, one set sort of “nests” inside the other) . You should now have two sets that each have four of your original petal pieces in them.


Pin one two-petal section to another two-petal section, right sides together.

Pin one two-petal section to another two-petal section, right sides together.


9. Stitch along the sides you have pinned. If you can, try to start at the point where your previous stitching starts (you’ll see what I mean when you have the pieces pinned together. All of the stitching for the balls will start at one point at the top, and continue to one point at the bottom) and stop where your previous stitching stops.


start and stop sewing at your original stitching/seam allowance.

start and stop sewing at your original stitching/seam allowance.


10. Open up the two pieces of your ball. One of them will be for the front, and one of them will be for the back. Now it’s time to decorate them. Print out or trace an image of a pentagon and use it for your pattern. I used 12 pentagons for my son’s soccer ball, but a bigger costume will need more. Arrange them how you like on both halves of the ball (google a picture of a soccer ball if you need help, or consult your kid’s) and attach them however you choose. I pinned mine and then sewed around them using a 1/8 inch allowance. However, you can also hot-glue them on (use a bunch of hot glue since this costume might get a beating) or use fusible interfacing (I think this might be the fastest method — fusible interfacing is around .99 cents a yard and comes with instructions on the back).


Pin, then sew or otherwise attach the pentagons to your costume.

Pin, then sew or otherwise attach the pentagons to your costume.


11. Once you’re done putting the pentagons on, you’re ready to put the whole thing together. First, take one of your circles and lay it on your child’s chest where you want the ball to sit on his body. Arrange the shoulder strips you cut earlier so that they go over his shoulder like the shoulder parts of a tank top. Now, fold them in so that their raw edge is aligned with the raw edge of the circle and their other raw edge is pointing towards the middle of the circle. Pin them there.


pin shoulder strips where you want them to go except facing into the center of your circle.

pin shoulder strips where you want them to go except facing into the center of your circle.


12. Cut two lengths of elastic about two inches each. Lay them on the circle where you want the two sides of the balls to connect under your child’s arm a little over halfway from the top of the circle. Then, like you did with the shoulder strips, turn them so that they are inside the circle. Pin.

13. Now, invert the decorated half of your soccer ball so that it looks like a bowl with black pentagons on the inside (Make SURE they are on the inside of your bowl, otherwise your soccer ball will be wrong-side-out). Lay the circle with the strips and elastic on top of your bowl, like a lid, with the side with the arm strips and elastic facing DOWN into the inside of your bowl. Whenever you are sewing this costume, all the attachments are going to be inside your “bowl.” Check periodically to make sure; if they’re not, your ball will be inside out! Pin the lid to your bowl. It helps to work by pinning at the top, then putting a pin across from that pin, then picking another point and pinning across from it rather than working your way around.


Pin the "lid" (your felt circle) onto your "bowl" with all attachments and decorations inside.

Pin the "lid" (your felt circle) onto your "bowl" with all attachments and decorations inside.


14. Sew all the way around your circle, leaving about a 2 inch opening on one side. Make sure this opening doesn’t have any part of the elastic or shoulder strips in it. You want those securely sewn into your seam.

15. Now, Turn your soccer-ball costume half right side out by reaching into the opening you left, grabbing a piece of the ball, and pulling it through. Yay! One half is done!

16. Hold the costume up to your child to see about how long you want the shoulder strips to be. Mine were pretty good right at the 2 by 7 inch mark, but a smaller or thinner child will need them cut off a little. Hold them up where you want them to be, add 1/2 inch (for the seam allowance) to the length you want them to be, and then cut them off.

17. Now, lay circle #2 down and lay the finished first half of your costume on top of it with the circle side DOWN (the two circles will be next to each other in the sandwich)and the pentagon side facing UP. Pin the shoulder strips to circle #2 at about the same place as circle #1 matching the raw edge of the shoulder strip to the raw edge of circle #2. Do the same with the elastic.


Pin shoulder strips and elastic exactly as before and secure first costume half in the center of circle #2.

Pin shoulder strips and elastic exactly as before and secure first costume half in the center of circle #2.


18. Now you should have circle #2 with the first costume half pinned to it. Pin the first costume half down in the center of circle #2 so that it’s secure and won’t flop around inside the sandwich you’re going to make right now. Now, turn the second pentagon decorated ball half so that it’s another inverted bowl with the pentagons on the inside, just like before. Pick up circle #2 (with attached first costume half) and lay it over your bowl like a lid, just like before, and pin, like before.

19. Sew, as before, leaving a 2 inch opening. Turn right-side-out by reaching in and pulling out the first costume half. You now have your costume done except for stuffing and sewing up the opening.


You're almost done!  Time to stuff your costume!

You're almost done! Time to stuff your costume!


20. Stuff your costume with poly-fil. When you stuff it, try to pull the fill apart a bit rather than stuffing it in in globs. That’ll make your ball less lumpy. Also, don’t stuff it too full; remember that your child is going to be in this!

21. Close the opening using hot-glue or a blind stitch. Instructions for doing a blind stitch are here (don’t worry, it’s easy): .


The finished product.

The finished product.


I hope that explains the process in enough detail. Don’t worry, once you get started, it gets very intuitive. You can easily adapt this method to make other kinds of balls, just change the way you decorate your costume. Feel free to email or comment with any questions whatsoever and I will try to help as soon as possible.

Edited to Add:

I used this method to make a whole batch of balls for my kids to wear for Halloween.  I ended up with a soccer ball, a basketball, a football, and a little baseball, complete with carseat baseball mitt.  Here are some pics:

At the Halloween Carnival.

Someone wasn’t happy we ended his candy binge.

Change the measurements a bit and you end up with a football.

Omit the back half of the ball (just use the flat circle piece) and cover a carseat with brown felt and  you have a baseball and baseball mitt.

We found a serendipetous soccer goal while trick-or-treating.  In tribute to my two sons’ favorite part of the game . . . “GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!”

Such a tired little baseball.  🙂

Chaos. Everyday.

Four kids. Two parents. Everyday life. Stop in often for new updates, crafts we've been working on, and a journal of life with four kids age five and under.

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