Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Free PDF Patterns for Children and Babies

I've thought for a long time about committing my research for free patterns to a post, but I've always been too busy using them to make clothes for the grandchildren to find time to write about them. I did manage one post a while back with my (then) favourite free patterns. Those were all ones I'd used over and over again for my grandchildren.




But I really want to make an attempt now to produce something that would be useful to others looking for free patterns for babies and children. It will take several posts. I have several hundred links on my spreadsheet, and there are several worksheets on it covering dresses and tops, pants and trousers etc. Then there are all the different sizes. Where to start?

To find which I think are some of the most useful web sites, and links to them, read on.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Free Pattern for Baby Dining Harness

Assuming you have come to this page from my other pages on dining harnesses, go ahead and click on THIS LINK to see the pattern, and download to your computer. If not, please go to THIS PAGE for the tutorial, and THIS PAGE for more information on Baby dining harnesses generally.




1. Print out the pattern pages, actual size - do not shrink to fit. These will fit perfectly on A4 paper but should work OK on other paper sizes for normal printers. As long as you've told the printer to print actual size, the pattern should be the right size, you might just have more or less border. Note that page 3 is just a layout plan so you don't absolutely have to print that out, but you will need to refer to it on screen if you don't. 

2. Cut out pieces 1-9. Start by cutting off all the margins around the graph paper grid. Then cut the black lines. Do not cut any of the dashed lines.

Note that the piece on page 4 does not go right to the margin.


If you are not using A4 paper: the printed grid should still print to the same size, the large squares are an inch. The whole grid on each sheet  is 11" by 7".  If you can't get it to print to the right size, see suggestion below.

3. You'll now have 9 pattern pieces. Attach these together with tape, referring to the layout plan shown above, and on page 3 of the pattern, lining up the grid squares and roughly matching a to a, b to b, etc. But it's more important that the edges of the pattern match. I suggest you lay the pieces out so that the bottom edges are against a straight edge, either a long rule or a table, to keep it all nice and square.

4. The bottom edge of the completed pattern is marked 'Place on fold of material'. When you come to cut out the material, this line needs to be placed on the fold of your doubled material. You do not need to fold the material on the vertical FOLD markings on the pattern. These are to indicate where you will fold the material to make a hem. It's up to you whether you cut the little notches, or mark the lines on the back of your material.

5. You are ready to start cutting!

6. You can also make pattern pieces for the straps, reinforcements etc using the measurements in the tutorial. Since these are all rectangles, I haven't done printed pattern pieces for these. The measurements are on the other post, here.

7. If your material has a right and wrong side, you will need to make a outer facing for the front part of the harness (otherwise, you'll have the wrong side showing at the front). See picture below. Draw a pattern for this using piece 1, 2 and 4. There is a line marked on piece 4 to show you where the finished edge of the facing should come - so you'll need to cut it about half an inch longer than that.You don't need to add anything extra at the top or sides as you'll put bias tape around it.  An alternative, if you are using thinner material than my sturdy denim, is to make the whole thing in two layers, i.e. cut out the main pattern piece twice. These you will place wrong sides together, as the edges with be bound with bias tape.

Suggestion: if your computer / printer won't let you print out the pattern the correct size: it acutally is not too difficult a job to draw your own pattern based on the one inch squares shown on my pattern. You'll need 1" squared paper (though 2" or half an inch would also work if you count carefully). I'm sure as a child you had to enlarge or reduce drawings by using grid squares. However, it would be worth perservering with your printer to try and make it co-operate!

Now see my tutorial for making your baby dining harness!



Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Replacement Padded Covers for Baby Car Seat or Buggy Straps

When my daughter found to her delight that she was pregnant again for the second time, it was time to get Jane's old car seat out of storage. Oh dear! One of the covers that should wrap round the shoulder strap to protect the baby from the strap chafing had gone missing.
Image result for car seat
It wasn't actually this model car seat, but you can see the padded covers for the straps clearly on this picture as they should be. Two of them. 

So the next sewing request was for a new set of strap covers. (A set, because, of course, you want them to match.) To find out how I made these (easy as pie), read on.

Easy Sunglasses (or Glasses) Case


In the middle of packing a holiday case (yes, I'd left it that late) I realised that none of the cases I had were big enough in depth for either of my two favourite pairs on sunglasses. 



So I had to make a new case, pronto. It had to be able to protect my sunglasses in the suitcase, and when out and about, but I didn't want it to be too heavy.

I knocked up this case in about 7 minutes. You could do a much better job in 15, but I didn't have 15 minutes available!










Friday, 6 October 2017

The Fat Quarter Challenge

I have always tried to squeeze as much as possible into the material I have. Probably comes from my Mum, who lived through the hardships and shortages of the Second World War. Her favourite recycling mantra was 'make do and mend', and she never threw anything away. So I recently took it as a personal challenge to see what I could make from fat quarters. With a new grand-daughter expected any day now, I thought I would start there.

A fat quarter is a small piece of material which is effectively a quarter of a square yard of fabric (or metre, if you are lucky). So they are popular with quilters, who can cut several six to nine inch (15-20 cm) squares from each. In practice, few bolts of material these days are exactly a yard or metre wide:  41"-42" or 112cm are the standard for the types of cotton and poly cotton from which most fat quarters are cut. So a fat quarter is usually more like 18" by 21".  Hence the name 'fat' quarter, I suppose.

Here's what I made recently from a few fat quarters: a kimono wrap dress or nightdress for newborn; a sun hat, a diaper cover, a play suit for c 3 months, and a circular skirt age c 3 months. You can find out more about squeezing tiny garments from a minimal amount of material below. Of course, if you have just a tiny bit more fabric, it will be a little easier!


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My Dining Chair Harness

Home-made baby sitting harness (for sitting at table)


In an earlier post, I wrote about some ideas for making home made harnesses. I also mentioned that none of them were 100% right for my needs, and that I had made my own based mainly on the Canadian Living example, but with some modifications. This is what I came up with.



.

Here's how I went about it, including the adaptations, and a link to my pattern.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Snappy Top

As I look through my photos, I see there are  projects I photographed but didn't blog about - too busy at the time! But I like to write up my experiences / efforts, especially when trying a new free pattern.

Here's one from May 2015.

This is made from the Snappy Toddler Top pattern from Prudent Baby.  Below, you can find out more about this pattern, and the dress I made from it.

Recycling Adult Clothes for Baby Things

Once adults have no further use for their clothes, they may give some of them to the charity shop.  Sometimes, the clothes may be in such bad shape that they just need to go into the fabric recycling waste. But sometimes adult clothes on the throwaway heap may still have some good fabric in them. My husband throws away a shirt once the collar corners have started to curl. If there is usable material, I put them in my stash, until I find a further use for them. (Often to my husband's protests that I already have too much fabric. Is there such a thing???) Often, there will be enough to make little garments for small children. In this post, I'm going to recap on some of the uses I've made of rejected clothes over the past couple of years that have enabled me to fashion new garments for nothing or next to nothing. If any of them strike a chord, there are links to the more detailed descriptions or tutorials.


Making Baby Leggings from an Adult Vest

My daughter's newborn baby was too long for the newborn clothes - the leggings she had been given didn't reach her ankles. So I thought I'd have a go at making her some bigger leggings.
I was pretty happy with the results, will definitely make some more. To find out how to make these easy little leggings, read on.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Quick Quilts

I needed to knock up a couple of extra child size quilts for the visiting grand-children, with limited time available. I came up with two quick solutions. For the real thing, (i.e. proper home made quilts) see my posts on children's quilts here and here. But for a quick make, how about these two ideas?



This has to be one of the fastest quilts I've ever made. It's super lightweight, more of a blanket, really, but May and June were exceptionally hot here. 

I used a piece of double-sided ready quilted fabric. You can see the two sides below, one with squares and circles, and the other with an abstract pattern of scrolls.


I really wish now I had bought more of these fabrics, when I saw them in the shops, because they are now much harder to find. I've used them a lot for different projects: rucksacks, playmats, a dolls carry cot, etc. The fabrics have mostly been at least 60" or 150cm wide. I would ideally make this from about a metre and a half  - however, the piece I had here was not much more than a metre square - say 102cm x 105 cm, or a yard and a bit each way - because I'd already used some for a child's rucksack and other things. But fine for a little cot quilt.

The quilt was as simple as can be. I rounded off the corners using a small plate to give my curve. 


Then I put double-fold bias binding tape all the way round. And that's it! Done!


I always sew double-fold bias binding in two stages. (First opening it out on one side and attaching that, then refolding it and sewing the other side.) I tried once attaching it all in one go, sewing through both sides, on a baby towel, but it slipped a bit in the machine, and I ended up re-sewing so many bits where it had missed, that I might just as well have done it in two stages in the first place.

Here is the first side sewn.


And here, the tape is folded over again and pinned ready to have the second side sewn. You can also see how I've joined the ends on the diagonal to lose some of the bulk of the join. 



Close ups of the finished edge - you can see how I've 'stitched in the ditch' on the second side for a neat finish: 






The second quilt is probably the second fastest one I've made (after the above). This one is a slightly warmer version, though you could make it whatever weight you wanted.

I had picked up some large pieces of this poly cotton teddy bear fabric at a children's farm / wildlife centre. Each piece was about a metre by 144cm (just over a yard by a yard and a half). Why they had it for sale there, I have no idea, but it was a bargain, and it had been sitting around in my stash waiting for the right project. 



My plan was to sew the quilt inside out, then turn it the right way out. To do this, I would leave a gap for turning. However, I wanted to make life a bit easier, once it was the right way out. So, before I sewed it up, I first folded in and pressed single 'hems' in along the seam allowance (about 1cm)  on the side where the gap would be.  I then laid the two pieces of the fabric right sides together, and proceeded to lay some light weight batting on top. I pinned all round, marking where my gap would be with double pins, and trimmed the batting to be the same size. Sewing directly on top of batting can cause havoc  - the needle and / or the presser foot can entangle, or some of the batting can be forced down into the innards of the machine. I avoided this by pinning narrow strips of a very fine gauze on top of the batting along my seam line. It was so fine it made virtually no difference to the thickness of the seam, butr it stopped any entanglement.

I then sewed the three layers together on all four sides, bar the gap on one side of about 10 inches or 25cm. 



Once it was sewn all round, I turned it the right way out through the opening, poking out the corners with a thin chopstick. You do need to be very careful if you press a quilt with batting inside, as the batting will tend to melt and fuse under a hot iron.

I oversewed all round, including the opening, with its already pressed hems turned in. On the picture above, you can see the oversewn edge at the bottom of the picture.

And finally, I sewed about three lines across and three lines down, dividing the quilt into fourths both down and across, to hold the batting in place. You could do a lot more 'quilting', but this was intened to be a very quick fix to the need for bedding for visiting grand-children, and those three lines in each dimension are sufficient to hold it all together in the wash. So each of the sections was about 24-25cm - 10" or so - by 35cm - about 14".

And it makes a nice cosy quilt.



Both of these have already had good use. I intended to make more, and perhaps would have done if there had been more time, but these both wash and dry like a dream, so my time has been spent on more urgent projects.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Swing Top for Child with Back Wrap Feature

I promised I would give some ideas for how the wrap top I made for Fleur could be made if you don't happen to have a convenient wrap beach skirt of the right length hanging around (or any other bit of fabric you can recycle). 



Back view

You need a piece of fabric about a metre or more wide, by roughly the length you want the top to be, a light stretch fabric being ideal. You also need some stretch bias binding or T shirt rib for the neck and armhole bindings. Or you could make your own binding from the main fabric. My fabric was a silky finish, but any light knit that will drape will would be fine. A yard wide might be a bit tight, depending on the child, but most fabrics come in about 45" or 114 cm wide plus.  (This is for a small child up to 5 years old, but you can increase the dimensions as long as you have a suitable pattern. See ideas below.) It also needs to be about 18" deep or 45 cm plus. A large adult T shirt might also have enough material. As you can see from the skirt I made mine from (which is folded in half in the picture below), this was on a slight curve. But a straight piece of fabric would wortk fine - you just need to cut the hem into a curve.
Ideally, a fabric that doesn't need hemming, like a knit, would work best. My material was already finished, with a slightly frilly edge. A serged edge or even a zig zag edge would also work, But do you want something that will drape loosely, especially at the back. If you were going to use a non-stretchy fabric, I would aim to cut it a bit more on the bias,

So, having found a suitable piece of material, you need a bodice pattern, with a back and a front. I used Climbing the Willow's basic bodice top, a free PDF pattern, to make this top. It comes in sizes 18 months to 5 years old. I used the age 5 for this. But there are several other free PDF patterns that you could use if you wanted a different size. For example, this peplum top from On the Cutting Floor comes in sizes 1-8, and you could just use the top part of the bodice and extend it. There is also this one from Imagine Gnats, which is available up to size 14, though I haven't personally used it as yet. For a two year old, there is this lovely swing tank top from True Bias, which would be perfect. (I've also stretched this pattern for a three-year old, and you can see the result on this post (near the bottom).)

Or you can draft your own pattern, if you feel adventurous and don't want to be constrained by sizes. There's an A-line dress draft from Frills and Flares, which is fairly simple, or this one from Stitch and Pink.

The plan is to make the top without any seams, just wrapping round at the back. So, as you can see from the layout above, I put the centre front on the fold.  I then slightly overlapped the top of the side of the back (as I wasn't going to have a seam, I reduced the pattern by the seam allowance) but I FLARED IT OUTWARDS at the bottom of the side seam. (If you were to use an A-line pattern you probably wouldn't need to do that, for example the Frills and Flares pattern, or the True Bias pattern, as they are already flared.) Then, I duplicated the back, and pinned that on as well, also a little flared. Then I cut out around the whole pattern neck and armholes (but not the bottom). On the assumption that you are using rectangular material, you will need to cut the bottom edge about 5" longer than the centre front, curving upwards to meeting the side seam of the second back piece.


When you open it out, this is what you get. You could then finish the whole of the bottom hem by serging or zigzagging. This will probably give you the slightly frilly effect l already had. And now, you can proceed the same as on my earlier post, to put the top together.

This makes a really cute top. My grand-daughter oves it, as it's very easy to pull on and off.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Another Skirt and Top

In my last post, I wrote about Fleur's new skirt and top. Fleur's little sister Rose couldn't be left out, so I made her a new skirt and top this summer as well. She's 2 and a half, but the top pattern was age 4, so it was nice and loose for summer. 



Again, the skirt was a simple gathered skirt. It looks a bit long in these pictures, in fact both the skirts do. This is mainly due to the fact that these two little girls had not had lunch yet, and so their waists were a little skinnier than normal! So the skirts had slid down a bit below their waists. I offered to tighten the elastic, but their Mummy said no, just wait till they've eaten!

For details of the free pattern I used, and how I went about making these, read on.

Summer Skirts and Tops

I've recently posted about one of my grand-daughters who only wants to wear dresses, and my attempts to persuade her into shorts. One of her cousins, Fleur, is the complete opposite, and will only just be persuaded to wear a dress for church. The rest of the time, she wants to wear trousers or shorts. But her Mum thought she might consider a skirt and top. So I set out to make her a skirt and top (and of course, eventually, one for her sister).




The top was a recycled adult beach skirt, with a nice wrap around feature at the back, and the skirt was this nice whales and sailing boats thin knit fabric, which was an on-line purchase. You can find out how to make similar clothes after the jump.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

More 'New Baby' Clothes

I've probably bored all of you to death as I exhort you NOT to make first size clothes, but probably, like me, you can't resist, and then you may regret it afterwards. In my last post, I wrote about making baby dresses for my newest grand-daughter, and how some of them were too small from day one. In this post, I'll continue on the same theme a bit, but with a few other baby clothes.

They are all easy to make. I'll give you some ideas about free patterns that work for a small baby (though not that small!)




Read on for more information and ideas.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Back to Baby Dresses - Don't Make Them Too Small!

I haven't had to make baby clothes for a couple of years now, so it's nice to have a baby to make things for again.



Unfortunately, I don't often enough heed my own advice. A few months ago, I urged readers NOT to make first size baby clothes for a baby shower. Suffice it to say, I ignored that advice. But - I repeat - don't make first size clothes for babies!!! See my earlier post .

Above is two-week old Ada - in a size 3-6 months dress!

In this post, I'll review some of the baby dresses I've made for Ada from free patterns, and show you my tips (and my mistakes).

Friday, 28 July 2017

Shorts for Small Girls (2)

In my last post, I wrote about some shorts I'd made this summer for my grand-daughters, using the Craft Passion Kids Shorts pattern. Nice though it is, the shorts from that pattern hadn't entirely worked to my satisfaction. I think the pattern probably works better for boys. 

In fact, Jane completely rejected her pair. And normally, she loves the clothes I make her. But shorts are just so practical for these hot sunny days, So I thought I'd have another go, making something she would think a little bit more feminine. (She wasn't supposed to be a pink, frilly girl. But her childminder has several daughters older than Jane, and I think the girliness of these older girls has caught her imagination.)


Well, she looks happy enough with this outfit - and did actually agree to wear it for an outing to Ham House. I'd used a different shorts pattern this time, and I think these shorts do seem a better fit. To find out more about these shorts and the top she's wearing with them, read on.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Shorts for Small Girls (1)

I made these shorts for Fleur over two years ago, when she was about 18 months old. I loved the pattern I used, Summer Shorts by Caila Made (and recommend the pattern and tutorial). It's basically an Age 2 pattern, although it is suggested that you can try printing it bigger or small for different sizes within reason.



However, all my grand-daughters are growing! Where did the last 2 years go? So I thought I should do some research on alternative free patterns for shorts.

The first one I came across seemed perfect, size wise, so I launched into making new shorts for the girls. In this post, I'll tell you about my experiences with the Craft Passion Kids Shorts pattern, in size 3 and size 7. In the end, I think this pattern probably works better for boys than for girls, but the pattern and tutorial are offered free, and are straightforward to make up, so I still think they are worth a look. So read on to find out about my experience with this pattern.

Adapting Pattern Sizing - How I Resized a Shorts Pattern

Recently, I made a number of pairs of shorts using the Craft Passion kid shorts pattern. It is only made in sizes age 3 and age 7 (and the author says the sizes may be small, as they are for an Asian sized child). I decided the age 7 would probably work for Fleur. She's only 3 and three-quarters, but very tall for her age, and mostly wearing age 5-6 clothes. So if an Asian size 7 would come up small, that would probably be OK. Rose is 2 and a half, but I figured the age 3 would work for her. But what to do about Jane, who is 3 and a half, and now starting to grow  into size 4-5 clothes? I decided a bit of interpolation would be needed. It doesn't usually work to just take an even amount off, or add an even amount on all the way round a pattern. In this post, I'll show you how I did it, in case you have a pattern you need to alter size-wise. 

Here is the first pair of shorts made from the size 7 pattern.

Age 7

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Child's Apron

I've previously posted about baby bibs and aprons, and aprons for toddlers, but I realised the other day there is still a need for aprons for the girls now they are older. The occasion was a teatime snack for Jane. We'd found some huge, delicious ripe cherries on sale at a price that did not require us to take out a fresh mortgage, so of course we bought lots. And Jane was offered some for her snack. As soon as I started splitting them to take the stones out, I could see a problem looming.  These were really juicy black cherries. Jane (aged 3) refused to take off her pretty dress (too cold) and initially refused to wear any of the aprons I found in her Mum's drawer. One was her sister's, one was too small, one was Mummy's - well, eventually I got her to wear Mummy's, having checked Mummy didn't mind. (Of course she didn't.) But it WAS far too big for her.

So the next day, I looked out the instructions and pattern measurements that I'd used before, free from John Lewis. See the earlier post. And in my stash I found this sturdy cotton fabric, with a great jungle animals print, which had just been waiting for the right project. 


I wanted to make it pretty mess-proof for just such a future occasion, so I made it double layered. I had the spotty brown linen material left over from earlier projects, and the jungle print for fun. I more or less followed the John Lewis instructions, except as mentioned below. Oh, and I didn't bother with the pocket suggested. 

I had to join the spotty material (which was to be the lining) down a centre seam, as I only had a long thin piece left. It was also a little bit shorter than I wanted, by a couple of inches. So I cut the jungle print 4 inches longer, and joined the bottom seam first, pressing it up so that the lining also had a 'hem' of the jungle print.



Next, I made the straps. I sewed them as long straps right sides together and turned them out using a safety pin. After pressing, I oversewed the long seam to stop them twisting, I didn't completely follow the John Lewis instructions, which require you to attach the straps at the end, stitching a box and criss cross to secure them to the outside of the apron. I planned to encase them between the two layers of the apron, so I just finished one end of each of the longer waist straps, and I didn't finish the ends of the neck strap at all.

I intended to sew the two layers together, right sides together, leaving a gap in the stitching to enable turning the right side out. However, I'd already got my bottom edge (because of the seam to join the short piece to the longer piece). So the opening would be on one side seam. Before I sewed the layers of the apron together, I pressed the turnings I wanted to make on either side of my opening, to make it easier afterwards to pin accurately.

I then pinned the straps between the layers (which were of course folded right sides together.). I also folded the straps up a bit inside the apron layers and pinned them together. I didn't want to catch them by mistake when I sewed round the apron.  I pinned all the way round the apron apart from the side opening.

I sewed all round the apron catching in the ends of the straps, except for my opening, about 5" or 6" long, on one side. I clipped the curves, and the corners, and then turned it all right side out with the aid of a thin chop stick. I pressed it, and repinned the turnings I had pressed previously. A quick run round on the machine oversewing the entire edges of the body of the apron, and it was done. Even with  the complication caused by my shortage of lining material, I completed this in a couple of hours. So that was in enough time to be able to take it as a 'present' when picking Jane up from the child-minder - an incentive for her to come quietly and not lark about! 

She tried it on when we got to her home. It's a good fit, long enough and wide enough to cover her dress. In fact it would probably have done so even if I hadn't added the bit to the length. But never mind, it will fit her for longer. She loves the jungle print. The length of the neck strap on someone Jane's age (3) is such that you  need to pull it down and fasten the waist straps through the neck strap.



I'm sorry the focus is not the best on this picture, but you can see how nice the fabric is 

The design actually makes a reversible apron. Apart from the fact that this one had a centre seam down the lining, it could be used either way. 


Jane is 3 and a half, and this came down to her knees - perfect!


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Yet More Summer Dresses for Little Girls

Yesterday I posted on the subject of the Suncadia knit dress, which is a free PDF pattern and tutorial from Sew Much Ado. Today, I'm trying to do some catching up on the other dresses I've made so far this summer. Two of them have been from the Izzy Top pattern from Climbing the Willow, I have written about those here. And now, in this post, I will write about a couple more dresses for 3 year-old Jane. Her baby sister was due at the end of June (and is now, delightfully, with us). I felt that Jane might feel her new sister was going to get a lot of attention, and so she should have some nice new things too. So both these dresses have gone down well.



Hang on, I hear you say - aren't there three dresses here? Well, yes,  the tiny matching one WAS for baby sister. She'll be known as Ada on the blog from now on.

To find out more about this rabbit dress and elephant dress, read on.

Monday, 17 July 2017

More Summer Dresses for Little Girls - Suncadia

I've been busy making summer dresses for my 4 grand-daughters. Yes, that's right, number 4 has arrived! So I'm now making in sizes from age 5-6, down to 0-3 months.

I will do a separate blog on the baby clothes. This summer, I've had to be hunting for patterns for little girls who are no longer babies or toddlers. Here are some of the ones I love, and I'll tell you below and in my next couple of posts, how I made them, and any tricks or tips I can add.

           


All of them were made using free PDF patterns from the internet. Those shown above come from 4 separate patterns, which were chosen for their versatility. (Virtually all were modified from the original pattern.) These were all made in sizes 3 to 5 years old (for three grand-daughters, between 2 and a half, and a tall 3 and a half). Read on to find out more.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Izzy Top as a Dress

The Izzy top makes not only a pretty top, but can be made a bit longer as a dress. I am a real fan of the free pattern and tutorial by Climbing the Willow. Many thanks to Teri, who was kind enough to put it on-line as a free PDF. However, I now modify it slightly to make it a more comfortable fit (or easier to get on and off). Here are two of my granddaughters in Izzy dresses.


 
Read more below about how to convert the Izzy top into these lovely and easy to wear dresses.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Extending an Opening Below the Yoke Line

A couple of the patterns I've worked on have had a back opening to a dress or top, but on the pattern or instructions, the opening only goes down to the seam line where the yoke joins the gathered skirt part. On both of these, I have wanted to extend the opening down beyond that seam line to make getting the garment on and off easier. The challenge is not that the opening is insufficient to allow the head through, but that the seam line itself causes a constriction when it comes to getting shoulders and elbows through. Just a little further opening down below the seam is a help.

1. Edge to edge opening

One such pattern, the free PDF for the Izzy top, is one I love, but I've previously had to resort to making a larger size to deal with the shoulders and elbows issue! It is designed as an edge to edge opening in the back yoke, attaching to a gathered skirt. The back skirt in the Izzy top is made all of one piece, cut on the fold.

Here's how I extended the opening.

I took the pattern piece for the skirt, which says ' cut one on the fold'. (But you could do the same thing if you had a pattern with a centre back seam in the skirt.) I added about 1 1/4" to the width, and treated this new line as a cutting line.

I then treated the original fold line as a seam line, but I only seamed from the bottom to a little short of the top - say 2" to 3" short. (Obviously right sides together.) It's important here to reinforce the top of this seam. Having sewed up the seam, I trimmed away the lower part of the seam allowance. You don't have to do this, you could just leave it with a very wide seam allowance, but I think it looks neater to trim it. Note that I only started trimming well below the opening I'd left in the seam, that way you won't have raw edges on show. You could cut it straight across, but I thought it looks better angled as I've shown it.

 The next step was to open the back out, and press the seam allowances away from the seam. Then I finished the edges. If you have a serger, you could serge the edges. I don't, so I chose to do a fairly short (but wide) zigzag across the edges, Alternatively you could use pinking shears or turn in a tiny single hem. But the zig zagging worked for me,

When it came to attaching the skirt to the yoke, this was quite easy. I use a slightly different method from the one suggested in the Izzy tutorial. This is partly because I don't have a serger, and partly because I happen to think it looks neater, I prefer to 'trap' the skirt between the two layers of the bodice. So, having gathered the skirt, i pinned it right sides together only to the outer layer of the bodice, matching the finished edges of the bodice to the edges of the opening I'd created in the skirt. I then sewed it together, pressed it, and pressed the 3/8" seam allowance on the bottom of the lining layer of the bodice. I chose to hand stitch this to the inside of the skirt seam, but you could oversew on a machine if you wanted. For me, one of the great things about making clothes for small people is that the odd bit of hand sewing is quite small. It took me less than 10 minutes to hand sew it all neatly, tucking in the ends. This is how the inside looks.


The other small modification I made was that the Izzy top has only one tab for closure, right at the top (neckline). I chose to add another one further down as well, because my opening is a bit longer.

And voila - a top that opens just that bit further, and should be easier to get on and off.

2. Overlap opening

I had had a similar problem with a pretty pattern from Cottage Mama when I made Christmas party dresses for my grand-daughters eighteen months ago. This pattern also has a back opening for the top part, attaching to a gathered skirt. There was the same issue, though, in that that the waist measurement in itself has little 'give' to go over broader shoulders (or hips / butt encased in a nappy, if you pull up instead of down).However, it is different from the Izzy top in a couple of ways. Firstly the yoke is more of a full bodice that comes down to the waistline. Secondly, the back opening has an overlap, in other words the centre back is not on the edges of the opening, but about half an inch in from each side, with a one inch overlap. 

This overlap opening presents a different challenge if you want to make the opening a bit deeper, as I did. If your skirt seam is in the centre of the back, it's not going to line up with the overlapped edge of the bodice part. If you line it up with the overlapped bodice edge, it won't be in the centre. I spent several nights awake trying to figure this out.

If your opening extended all the way down the skirt, the not centredness might not matter. Sew Mama Sew has made that assumption in this post, but the opening is in the front. I think it might be a bit weird with an opening all the way down the back of a skirt. With the Cottage Mama dresses for Christmas, I played around with adding extra one side of the skirt pattern, then the other side, then a bit more the first side - and I was never very happy with the results. I ended up having to fudge it a bit. You can just about see that the opening goes down below the waistline, but however hard I fiddled with it, I couldn't find a way to get the centre back line of the skirt to be anything other than off-centre!




Maybe I was being extra fussy - I don't suppose the toddler who wore this noticed at all! Eventually I concluded that (for someone of my skills at sewing, or lack of them) I would just have to assume that the "centre" back seam for the skirt would by slightly off centre. After all,  the difference is pretty small. If anyone knows how to deal with this, I would be very interested to hear from them - a search on the internet hasn't given me any more ideas.

However, since I first wrote this post,  I read more about how to add a continuous bound placket - this means you don't need a seam all the way down the dress so the fact that the opening is slightly off centre isn't noticeable. I'll use this approach in future, I think - and if I do, I'll write about it! In the meantime, I'll continue to extend openings below a fixed yoke or waistline seam, unless that seam is elasticated.