Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to make a knit ruffle rosette swirl

Just how do you make the knit ruffle floral rosette swirl above?  Well, after much practice, I think I have it down.  So, I thought I would share.

Now, keep in mind that my brain seems to work differently than the average person.  For example, jokes usually have to be explained to me.  This tutorial may not be the best way to do this ruffle or the most common way, but this is where I ended up after trying it out a few other ways.

Here we go!

First of all, this is luscious bamboo knit jersey fabric I bought off Etsy from Bamblue Fabrics.   I was looking for this particular color and not necessarily for bamboo.   But, I have to talk up this knit. It is incredible!  It washes great, did not shrink a lot, and is the softest fabric this side of fine silk.  Seriously! Buy some!

Okay, here's the tutorial:

1.  I folded the fabric in half the long way, and in half again.  

 2.  I cut out one two inch wide strip with my rotary blade.  I think it would be hard to cut this knit with scissors because it wants to curl.  I used the rule to hold it down.  It is sheer concidence that my ruler is two inches wide.
 3.  Now I have a long, bamboo knit snake! 
 4.  I used my hem gauge to find the middle and I sewed a long stitch down the whole middle.    My machine has stitch length zero to 4.    I chose stitch length 4. 
 5.  I pinned it to the fabric by hand, scrunching up about an inch as I went along and pinning about every half inch.  Does that make sense?  It looks like this when done.  I had marked my starting point and ending point on the skirt panel so I knew where I was headed and I just eyeballed how to make it even from one side to the next.  This is a skirt for a size 2T top.  If I was making a larger top, I would use the same length of knit but it would not be as ruffled and it would not wrap around the back, as this one is going to do.
 6.   Taking the end thread, I gently pulled, using my hands to space out the ruffle as I went and making sure it did not pull the fabric along with it.  I do it this way because ruffling it first by hand created a piece of ruffle that was very difficult to pin and sew down.  I do not have a ruffle attachment for my machine nor does my serger ruffle very well.  So, I do it by hand.  Ruffling with wovens is much easier but knits are more difficult.
 7.  Then, I sewed right on top of the previous stitch, this time not such a long stitch.  My machine has stitch length zero to 4.  This is stitch length 3.
 8.   Now, it looks like this.
 9.  Now, I need to make the swirl.  This time, I folded the knit in half width-wise and cut out a two inch wide piece.  Again, I am making this up because I don't actually have a pattern for this!
 10.  I started in the same way as above, by sewing a long stitch down the whole length of the piece of fabric.  Next, I start by overlapping what I had just sewn on and, using the same technique, I pinned about every half inch while gently pulling up about a half inch to one inch of fabric.  I turned as I was doing this.  I only do the outer part of the rosette.
 11.  I then pulled the end string gently to create the ruffle and sewed it one, again sewing right over the previous stitch.  I did this very slowly and used my fingers to adjust the ruffles a lot.
 12.  This is what it looks like now.
 13.  I pinned back the insides of the rosette so that I won't sew over them for the next step.
 14.  Using the same technique, I pinned the inside of the rosette making sure my stitches will not overlap the outside layer.  I sewed this very slowly, making sure to take pins out as I sewed so I didn't sew one and break a needle.  I also used my fingers a lot to make sure the rosette would come out the way I wanted it.  This is a very forgiving fabric so you can be a tad messy with it and it will still look like a flower.
 15.  Finished!
 16.  A blow of steam from the iron later.....
 17.  And, once again, the finished dress.  This is a rather large rosette. If you want a smaller one, you could just make the swirl tighter together or make the knit less wide. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Top stitching makes the difference!

Tonight,  I am blogging about top stitching.  Why?  It is not because my sewing is always high quality and perfect and without flaws.  It is not because my sewing could be mistaken for a professional's.  No, my sewing is actually of medium quality and I make mistakes often.  I am blogging about top stitching because it is something we could all do better and I found a great blog post explaining how to do it well.

Gigisews posted this a while ago but it is worth sharing.  Perfect topstitching – How to get itI like how Gigi explains top stitching with and without special feet.  I do not have any special feet for my machine but I am learning how to do a better and better job of top stitching with just my regular foot.  It is tedious work and it requires patience and a good seam ripper but it makes such a difference. 

Top stitching makes the difference between your items looking homemade and well-made.   

 Here's an example where I think I did it well.  I don't always do it this well!

This is one reason it takes me so long to get sewing done!  Not having any fancy feet means I do a lot of my stitching in tedious, time-consuming techniques.  I ruffle by hand or I pleat by hand. I iron at every step.  I serge all edges as I sew so I don't have to deal with straggly fibers.   I hope my work shows it!  

Sewing requires patience and involves a steep learning curve.  I am still learning a lot and have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I love this pattern from Romeo and Mae called Harlowe.   It comes in three size ranges.  I bought only the toddler size but I was asked to sew one for a baby so I just adjusted the measurements down.  Romeo and Mae designs great patterns, they are very easy to use and the directions are well written.  I have made her  Jada ruffle pants and Lucia Halter dress and Ava knot dress.  They all turn out great every time! I highly recommend them.  From her website, you download the patterns and print them off.  Very simple! 

Here is the tiny Harlowe Dress, made using Benartex Backyard butterfly fabric.  Sweet huh?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Fave new fabric 3: Outfoxed

In my fun job (unpaid) managing Handmade Dress Haven on Facebook, I get to look at a lot of different fabric.  I also sew a bit for others and my own family, so between all of that, I see a lot of fabric each week.  It is not often I see something that is truly unique.  So, posting my favorite new fabrics is not just about what I like but what is currently unique!

One line that is also coming out soon is called Outfoxed and is from Lizzy House at Andover.  Lizzy's Castle Peeps, 1001 Peeps, and Red Letter Day all have similar themes and prints as Outfoxed so they all, in a way, coordinate.  They are all so unique as to make me think of them as special. Plus, with the plethora of bird prints out there right now, foxes are special!  Here is a collage of my faves from this line:

I especially love this one, foliage in green.  These greens are among my favorite colors. 

I also just love these foxes!  I am not sure what they are doing running around the forest but they are very cute and yet abstract and geometric at the same time.  I am not an artist but I can imagine that it was a bit of genius to do all of that together!

This line comes out this fall!  Be sure to watch for it in stores for preorder soon!

Fave new fabric 2: Garden Strings.

Andover Fabric has a great new line coming out soon called Garden Strings.  Look how vibrant and beautiful this line is!

I have two dark-haired children, one with dark skin as well, and they both look lovely in these jewel tones.  So, I am excited about the possibilities this line has for fall clothing! I also think it would make some great home decor accents!   I am not sure when it is coming out but I will definitely be getting some.  Look at this full picture of the main fabric:

I love it!  Don't you!?!?

Fave new fabric 1: Children at play

My serger has been down for the count for week. While I wait for the part to arrive and past celebrating my youngest daughter's fourth birthday with family, I have been checking out the new fabrics coming out later this summer.

My first favorite new fabric is Children at Play by Sarah Jane.  This is the largest line of fabric Michael Miller has ever put out, with 52 different options in four colorways.  You can check out the whole collection here.

I put together a collage of my favorites from this collection.

Aren't these lovely?  I have big plans for this collection.  When I shop for fabric for my kids and myself, I go with my gut instinct.  This collection has my heart all a twitter!  I love it!

You can visit Sarah Jane's blog to see more of her creations, which includes embroidery patterns and she also sells prints of her work in her Etsy store.  

When you get your Children at play, check out this cute hair clip you can make in the shape of a pinwheel.  The Mother Huddle has a very cute tutorial!

Right now, The Fabulous Fabric Fairy is running a preorder of Children Play for a great price. Check her out!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Simplicity 2377 Butterfly Dress

I decided to try out this new Simplicity pattern, 2377.  It looked very cute and I like the flutter-sleeve option.  It turned out to be a very simple pattern to follow.  My little girl really wanted a butterfly fabric dress for her fourth birthday celebration next week, so this is what we came up with.

 Front View
 Back View
One modification I made was to make the dress have three tiers instead of two.  I took the two skirt pattern pieces that came with the pattern, cut them a few inches narrower each, and then made a middle tier of in-between width. 

Fabrics are: Top to bottom: Blue Hill party dress (both), Sugar Pop by Moda, Benartex Backyard Butterflies, and Free Spirit Blossoming!  These are all such fascinating fabrics.  The Blue Hill are super soft, medium-to-light weight for a woven, and perfect for clothing.  The Moda is thicker and not as soft but has a nice feel to it.   The Backyard butterflies is very soft and light-weight, almost silky.  It would be perfect for a nightgown!  The Blossoming is my favorite, however, being that it is thick and soft and of so pretty. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Name!!

My blog has a new name, Handmade Dress Haven.  I decided to change the name so it matches my Facebook page.  On Facebook,  Handmade Dress Haven is a fun page to talk about sewing for kids and for yourself.  One of the things we are really good at is identifying fabrics used by others and finding patterns.  But, it is also a good place to just chat about sewing for free.

Handmade Dress Have on Facebook

What else have I been up to?  Well, a lot of sewing for my business but that should slow down soon and I am going to participate in the Summer of No Pants.  From the Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! Blog:

Summer of No Pants 2011 Challenge

The Summer of No Pants 2011
a skirt and dress making challenge
May 23-June17

Are you up for the challenge? Join the Summer of No Pants 2011 Flickr Pool where you can share the skirts and dresses that you make in the 4-weeks before summer officially starts! The sewing challenge will run between May 23-June 17, 2011.


I bought some new sewing patterns for me off Etsy.  I am going to use my beloved Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow blue collection and also grab some of the new Tula Pink Prince Charming in blue and olive to coordinate.  First, this Fashion Formula Skirt pattern collection looks really fun.

 I also grabbed this Diane Kimono pattern as well.   I might get some voile for this one, maybe some Kaffe Fassett.  Or I could use the Hokka Japanese cotton fabric in black and watermelon that I just bought. 

What I like about both of these patterns is that they look simple to sew and simple to sew for the middle age body that is not very slim and trim anymore. 

So, what are you up to this summer!  Join the Summer of No Pants!