Monday, January 16, 2012

Snap Wrap Kimono Style Dress Part 1

Months ago, I made this dress for Z. It's a kimono style dress that pulls over her head instead of wrapping around. It's a pretty good play dress. And I thought it was so clever.

Some time later I fell in love with and made a Snap Wrap Dress from Prudent Baby. It is not only a great looking dress, it's easy to get on. Little Z hates getting dressed and I appreciate anything that makes the task of clothing her easier. However, the dress is not always suitable for our weather, which is mostly foggy with a chance of heavy fog. With the optimism of not knowing what I was getting into, I decided to make a snap wrap kimono dress. And by make, I mean make up from the cobbled tutorials of others. Not realizing that this was simply a kimono dress - a pattern that's been around for probably a thousand years or so.

Below is how I made the dress borrowing from some great tutorials. If you want a simpler kimono, Habitual made this lovely one. The end result is still a kimono dress, which I made rather overly complicated. It's sort of funny when I remember thinking it was going to be the greatest dress ever.

I started with making the pattern on some paper recaptured after our last art co-op. For some reason the kids did not spill much paint all over the paper we cover the tables with and it felt wrong to just chuck it. I've seen this method of getting a basic pattern on several sites. Using a shirt (or dress) that fits, I traced it onto the paper and then added some length because it's going to be a dress. I also tried diligently to follow along when ikatbag had a series of tutorials on drafting patterns. I think some of it stuck as I bravely/foolishly attempted a 3/4 sleeve. Z likes to stick her hands into everything and her cuffs are always getting ... well ... icky.

The I traced the full front and the back of the shirt on the fold. The process for this is amazingly well spelled out on Craftiness is Not Optional here. The idea is to get two almost full front pieces to wrap around.

The fabric I chose for this is a stretchy knit which should be good for playing and is in a color I love (I like purple). It is challenging fabric as seen by the curling at either end.

I do not have a serger. Frankly I am intimidated by them. I've read a lot about sewing knits. I like knits. I got out the ball point needle and trudged forward. I also hate my sewing machine. The machine knows this, and it doesn't help our relationship. The manufacturer knows this, because I've gone to them asking for help. I bought it due to some very good reviews, only to find that it has the worst tension problems I've ever dealt with. The kind people at the Brother corporation told me to always set the tension to 5 and make sure I'm threading it right. I'm going to chuck it out a window and get a machine I like as soon as I can. Anyway, at some point in every project I throw in the towel and just hand sew the rest. I like hand sewing and find it therapeutic.

This was a good day with it.

I like sewing in the sleeves this way because I admit to a lot of trouble getting them to work. Most of the things I make for Z are sleeveless because of that. I saw this method and thought it would end my troubles. And keep a little girl's arms warm.

Sew the shoulder seams first. Pin and sew sleeve in place.

Then sew the side seam and sleeve seam in a straight shot. I lined up the seams where the sleeves meet the body at the underarm.

This is where it was to get some style in the form of bias tape. In this case stretchy knit bias tape because I'm a glutton for punishment. And I thought it would look nice.

I was wrong. The combination of stretchy material and stretchy bias tape gave me a sort of warped neckline. It is easy on the neck as it is soft, but it doesn't look wonderful.

Z also seemed a bit small for the dress (not that I made it too big) and less than thrilled with wearing it. So I decided to spend her nap reworking it by first adding a panel to help the neckline. I am sure this is bad sewing form, but it did help. And I'd already ripped out and replaced the bias tape.

And then I decided it could work if I made it snazzier. 

Now, Z will wear this dress and not care because she's two and clothes are just something mom makes her wear. The next steps are simply to make me happy with the dress.

So back to the drawing board...

And onto part 2. >>

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