knits

Racerback Maxi Dress FREE pattern and tutorial

Today I’m so excited to be a part of 30 Days of Sundresses series at Melly Sews! I participated last year, and this year I’m bringing you a free pattern and tutorial for a racerback maxi dress that is super comfy and early maternity friendly! But if you aren’t pregnant, don’t worry – baby bellies are not required. ;)Free Racerback Maxi Dress Pattern

Knit dresses are easy to wear at this stage in pregnancy, because a maternity dress isn’t always necessary. I certainly won’t be able to wear this into my third trimester, but I’ll be able to wear it next summer when I’m not pregnant anymore!

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The racerback is so fun for summer!

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Notes on Size: This dress pattern comes in one size, and it is comparable to a ready-to-wear medium. The bust is between a 36-37in. But keep in mind that it’s a knit dress, so you may be able to fudge it a little with the right kind of fabric. I am 5’3 (and a half ;) and I made the dress an inch longer than is good for me, with a 1in. hem. So keep this in mind in case you are taller and want to lengthen your dress.

You will need to use knit fabric that has at least 30% stretch. This is super important. (If you’re a little smaller than a medium, though, you could probably get away with a knit with less stretch) I made one with about 10% stretch and it was a stretch (ha! pun intended!) to fit into it. This dress -without a baby belly- is intended to have a looser fit and not be skin tight, which is why you want more stretch.

Now let’s sew!

1.Download your FREE If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern. Cut out your fabric. The pattern includes a 1/4in. seam allowance unless otherwise noted. *Make sure you download or export this pattern to your desktop so that you can print it from Adobe Reader*

2. Place your front and back pieces right sides together. Sew both the shoulders together.DSC_6927 copy

3. Sew down one side of the dress from armpit to bottom with a zig-zag stitch or using a serger. Then sew down the other side, stopping at around 26in. from the armpit. (This is where you are going to create the side slit – I put mine on the left side of my dress, but you can choose whichever you prefer – or both sides!) I used a serger, so I serged off the edge of my dress.

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4. Sew a straight stitch about three to four inches with a 3/8in. seam allowance.

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5. Serge or zig-zag the edges of the fabric from where you left off with your serging/zig-zag until slightly past your straight stitch. (If you choose not to do this, it will be fine, because knit does not fray. But it will look much nicer, especially with a serger) Press this open, all the way down to the hem.

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6. There are two ways you can finish this side slit. You can use a coverstitch (affiliate link – this is what I use and SO highly recommend!! :) Or you can use a double needle. If you don’t use a coverstitch, you may wish to serge the raw edge of the fabric all the way to the bottom.
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7. Fold the bottom up to your desired length and hem with a coverstitch or double needle. I use a 1in hem.

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8. Make your arm and neck bindings. Measure your neckline and armscyes – your bindings should be 85% of these lengths. The stretch of the fabric should go lengthwise. The width of these bindings can be between 1 and 1 1/4in. (I’ll explain which I prefer and why in step 11). Sew the short ends right sides together.

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9. With right sides together, pin the binding to the armscye/neckline. You will slightly stretch the binding.

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10. Serge or zig-zag the fabrics together.

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11. If you are not using a coverstitch, I recommend cutting your binding 1 1/4in. wide. You will bring the binding to the wrong side of the dress, folding the raw edge under. Use a double needle to stitch it in place.

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If you are using a coverstitch, I prefer to use a 1in. wide binding, because it’s not necessary to fold the raw edge under.

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Now you have a lovely racerback maxi to wear all summer long!

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I really think that I could wear knit maxis everyday, because it kind of feels like wearing your jammies all day in this dress! Quick note: I lowered the armscye slightly after taking these pictures.

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This dress is super quick to sew, but watch out – it’s addicting! I already made another and have a third partially sewn. I also included a cut line for making your racerback a shirt instead of a dress. I’ll share a tank top version hopefully later this week!

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Don’t forget to download your free If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern, whether or not you’re sporting a baby belly. ;)

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Happy sewing! Make sure you check out the other lovely sundresses as part of the 30 Days of Sundresses series!

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Free Newborn Baby Pants Pattern

My absolute favorite thing to make for new babies is a pair of baby pants. Or three. I make my pants using this tutorial of mine, and now I’ve added a free newborn sized pattern to make it even easier for you!
Free Baby Pants Pattern

Supplies:

  • 1/4 yard of knit fabric
  • 15 inches of 3/4in. non-roll elastic (you may need to adjust this length based on the size of your baby)

For the time being, the pattern will be available for download only in the If Only Designs Facebook Group. Click over and join the group to download!
1. Cut two of the newborn baby pants pattern – make sure to reverse one (hint: fold your fabric wrong sides together, put the pattern piece on top, and cut two pieces)

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2. Fold the leg piece right sides together and sew down the inseam. Repeat with the second leg.

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3. Put one leg inside the other, right sides together. Pin together and sew the crotch seam.

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4. Turn right side out.

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5. Sew the ends of your elastic together with a zig-zag stitch.

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6. Fold the top of the pants down 1in. over the elastic circle. Pin the fabric in place. There are several options for making your waistband casing: use a coverstitch (my preferred method), double needle, or stretch stitch. Whichever you choose, make sure you don’t sew over your elastic. If you want to insert a ribbon/tag, now is the time to do it!

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7. Turn up the bottom of the pants 1/2in. and hem using your preferred method (coverstitch, double needle, or stretch stitch).

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Then admire your itty bitty newborn baby pants!

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Seriously, what is cuter than a row of baby pants?

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Well, maybe a baby in the pants! Since I don’t have any more bitty babies in my house, I sent these pants to my lovely friend Jodi at Sew Fearless for her sweeter than sweet baby boy. She shared this picture of him in the pants on her Instagram, and I just about died from the cuteness!

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Sew all the baby pants!

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Download your free newborn baby pants pattern by joining the If Only Designs Facebook Group.

Happy sewing, friends!

FREE Yoga Pants Pattern!

Today I’m over at Melly Sews sharing my Zinnia Jacket as part of the Riley Blake Knit Love blog tour. I’m super excited to take part in the tour on Melissa’s behalf and have the chance to play with some super yummy Riley Blake knits. You can read all about the Zinnia Jacket over on Melissa’s blog, and if you keep reading, you can make your own yoga pants by grabbing your FREE pattern!

FREE Women's Yoga Pants Pattern from If Only They Would Nap

When I decided to make the Zinnia Jacket, I quickly realized it would be a perfect pair with yoga pants. And obviously exercise is so much easier with a cute outfit. The Riley Blake knits are fantastic for this!

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You want to have a solid knit with 40-50% stretch and a good recovery. You can sew this with a serger or with a regular sewing machine, using a zig-zag stitch.

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These pants have an oh so ridiculously comfy fold over yoga waistband and are super quick to sew together. Yoga pants aren’t just for yoga, you know… have you ever slept in yoga pants? SO comfortable! I love that the waistband also gives you a chance to play with accent fabrics, like these fabulous triangles. DSC_4677

Knits are my jam. If you don’t sew with knits often, don’t be scared!! Just give them a try. If I can put my booty on the internet, you can try sewing knits. ;)

You can download your FREE PATTERN here in size medium.
Finished length: 40in. from bottom of waistband to finished hem

After you print and tape your pattern together, cut your fabric out. If the size medium doesn’t fit you, you can use these same instructions to put together your own self-drafted pattern. Just copy a pair of pants you already own and you’ll know they fit you. Just remember to add in some seam allowance.

1. Lay your front and back leg pieces right sides together. Zig-zag or serge along the inseam and the outside of the leg. Repeat with the second leg.

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2. Put the two legs together and line up the crotch seams, right sides together – make sure that the front and back line up. You can easily do this by putting one leg inside the other, right sides together. Sew the two pieces together.DSC_4855

3. Cut two rectangles for the waistband 10.75in (length) by 16.75in (width) – make sure the stretch goes along the width. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.DSC_4858

4. Fold the waistband over.DSC_4859

5. Slide the waistband over the pants and pin together. Sew with a serger or zig-zag stitch.DSC_4863

6. Hem with a one inch hem (or more/less according to your desired length). You can do this with a coverstitch (affiliate link), a double needle, or a stretch stitch.

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Then go for a run! Or cozy up with a good book… I won’t judge. Either way, feel good about your new pants!

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Download your FREE yoga pants pattern here

Happy sewing, friends!

Sew-a-bration of Women: shoreline boatneck tunic (take two)

When I’m shopping and I find something like a t-shirt or a cardigan that fits my body and I feel great in, I like to buy more than one. The same thing goes for a handmade wardrobe, which is why this is take two of this gathered tunic.

shoreline boatneck tunic

The first gathered tunic I made was a modified Shoreline Boatneck (affiliate link) from Blank Slates, and this one is too. (Though the pattern is fantastic without modification, as all Blank Slates Patterns are :)

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Today I’m posting as a part of the Sew-a-bration of Women at the Shaffer Sisters and Call Ajaire. It’s an awesome celebration of sewing for women – no matter your body type or age. Celebrating YOU!

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I’m still carrying a little post-baby love around my middle from my sweet baby number four, and this style of tunic is super flattering and hides that problem area better than some others. If you’re hesitant to sew for yourself because you haven’t lost the last ten pounds or are still nursing or whatever… just think of it as practice. Try out different styles to see what works for you, and the more you try, the better you’ll get.

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This tunic is long enough to wear with leggings (because leggings are not pants, my friends… cover up the booty is all I have to say), and the fabric from Girl Charlee is the perfect weight for summer, even with 3/4 sleeves. And pasty white legs, but you know, it’s spring in Wisconsin, these things happen..

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You can find the full tutorial for this tunic here and can use it to alter any shirt pattern to this style of tunic.

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You can gather it more if you like a fuller skirt, but I love just a little bit – and also, I hate gathering fabric. It’s a good thing I live in a house full of boys. ;)

Check out some more Sew-a-bration inspiration at these other blogs and get excited to sew for yourself!

Alter a shirt pattern to a gathered tunic [a tutorial]

One of the great things about sewing your own clothes is that you can make them how YOU want them to be. Have a great shirt pattern? You can make a tunic from it really easily!

Alter a shirt pattern to a gathered tunic  If Only They Would Nap
When Melissa of Blank Slates Patterns offered to send me her Shoreline Boatneck Top and Dress  [affiliate link] pattern, I was super excited. I love her children’s patterns, but I have yet to sew one of her women’s patterns. This pattern has both shirt and dress options… but I’m a girl who likes to have it all ;) so I decided to make it into a tunic.

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You can do this with pretty much any shirt or dress pattern you own [or you can even alter a shirt you have in your closet!], and it doesn’t take much.

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1. You’re going to cut the front and back bodice into two pieces. Firs, cut the top portion, both the front and the back bodice piece – but cut them about where you want the gathering to hit. Measure down from your armpit. The Shoreline Boatneck has a line on the pattern piece to lengthen/shorten, and I cut my bodice piece about an inch lower than that. The front and back bodice pieces should be the same length.

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2. Cut the bottom of the back bodice the same width as the pattern piece, but slightly longer. Measure down from where your gathering will hit down to where you want the tunic to end. [I ended up shortening mine after trying it on.]

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3. Now cut the bottom of the bodice front. You want it to be longer [the same length as you cut the back piece] and wider, to account for the gathers. I made mine about five inches wider, cut on the fold.

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4. Gather that front lower bodice piece you just cut. There are several different ways to gather. In this picture, I stitched a basting stitch and pulled on the bobbin thread to gather it. It’s more “proper” to use two lines of stitching.. but I tend to break the rules. ;)

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5. Gather your lower bodice piece to match the top of the front bodice. You want them to be the same width.

6. Sew the two front pieces together, then sew the two back pieces together.

7. Continue to follow the rest of the pattern instructions to complete your tunic!

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This mint green and cream striped Ponte de Roma fabric from Girl Charlee is amazing. I may or may not have snuggled with it after it arrived, it’s that soft. Don’t judge… you’ll do it too. It drapes really well and has a great weight. It has pretty quickly become one of my favorite knits to work with, I think.

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One of the things I love about Melissa’s patterns is her sleeves. They’re always perfect! I also added pockets to the tunic – because everything is better with pockets.

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Now excuse me while I go fill my entire wardrobe with Ponte de Roma tunics… :)

This post is sponsored by Girl Charlee, who provided the fabric for this tutorial. [Thanks, Girl Charlee!] All opinions are my own.

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Sewing Tip: making the most of upcycled tees

save the neckbands of old teesSometimes finding the right knit fabric can be tricky. Local shops don’t always have the widest selection, and while I love to shop online [Girl Charlee and The Fabric Fairy are some of my favorite sites for knits!] sometimes you just need to feel the fabric to know if it’s going to work for you – how much does it stretch? Does it drape well? How thick is it?

That’s one of the reasons that I love to upcycle. You can find some unique prints and if you shop your closet or a local thrift shop, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Often times, when I use a thrifted or clearance-rack T-shirt, though, I’m left with a bunch of leftover fabric. And the frugal side of me hates throwing away all the useful bits!

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Counting Stars — upcycled black tee // striped body suit — upcycled polo
DIY baby pants tutorial — upcycled thrifted shirts

Some large pieces might end up in my scraps bin, if I think I can use them again, but I especially love to save neck bindings.

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After you’ve cut out your pattern pieces, if you haven’t used the neck binding, cut it off and throw it into a basket.

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Then peek through your stash the next time you’re making a shirt or jammies. Just remember, if it’s an old shirt, it may not have the same amount of stretch that new ribbing would have, so test it out before using it. But this tip could save you a little bit of money and maybe a trip to the store for a little bit of ribbing!

Charlie Shirt: a pattern review

Not too long ago, I came across the European pattern designer Zonen09. When I saw her patterns, I seriously could not peel myself away from her site. Not only are her patterns unique and stylish, but she designs for BOYS!

So when I contacted the oh-so-sweet Sharon who is the designer behind Zonen09, she was so gracious and sent me two of her patterns to review!
Charlie Shirt // If Only They Would Nap

The first one I sewed was Charlie. This was the first of her patterns that caught my eye, actually. The style reminds me of the vintage clothing that I tend to gravitate toward at the thrift store, that late 70s/early 80s style that my brothers used to wear.

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This collar!

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The cuffs and waistband, well, I always love a shirt with those features. When you sew for boys, you aren’t going to be adding ruffles or lace, so contrasting fabrics give your garments interest.

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The main body of the shirt is lined, so it’s nice and sturdy. All of the pattern instructions and pictures were really clear and easy to follow, so I really think that if you’ve sewn a couple of things with knits [or like to challenge yourself a bit!], you could easily graduate to this pattern.

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Also, argyle. I mean, seriously. [I don’t know where the fabric is from, sorry to say. I got it from my lovely friend Alida, who has amazing style and taste in fabrics] photo DSC_0482_zps1594bdda.jpg

The only thing challenging about this pattern that a beginner might balk at is that seam allowance is not included. So keep that in mind if you don’t want to go through that extra step. This pattern and Jacob [which I’ll be blogging about soon!] are both on my list of 15 must-have patterns for boys. These are also the only two patterns she currently has in English – so know that before you buy! Two of her patterns are currently only in Dutch.

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I’ll add a bit of length to mine next time, as my two-year-old seems to have gone through a recent growth spurt. If your kiddo has a longer torso, I’d recommend that. But other than that, the fit was spot-on and was a really quick sew… you know, other than my forty zillion interruptions.

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You can find Zonen09 here or on Facebook.

Once, twice, three times a [Casual] Lady…

I’m in love. Is it okay to be in love with a pattern? Don’t tell me if it’s not. Because I totally am. And what’s that? You want more awkward selfies? Well I aim to please.DSC_0398

This pattern, the Casual Lady [affiliate link] from Go To Patterns is fantastic. I’ve made three already, and there’s no end in sight to my casual-loving madness.

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Since I have a nursing babe still, I’ve only made the top version. But the pattern comes with both a dress and top version.DSC_0365

This shirt is seriously comfortable. I love me a good T-shirt, and this one is my new favorite.
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I used different types of knit for each top – it’s really perfect for whatever you have in your stash.

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Dress it up, dress it down. I love a pattern with possibilities!DSC_0426
This face right here? You’re welcome.DSC_0421

Pretty soon I will have a closet full of Casual Ladies. [yeah… that definitely sounded better in my head]

Have you been sewing for yourself lately? I’d love to see! Leave me a link in the comments!

Fabric:
blue stripes – Girl Charlee
white subtle stripes – Fabric.com
floral – Joann Fabrics

Recess Raglan Hoodie

I know I mentioned before how much I love the Recess Raglan [a pattern from See Kate Sew – affiliate link]. I know this pattern is going to be in heavy rotation here. When I decided to make one for my two-year-old, I changed it up just a little bit from the original pattern.recess raglan hoodieBecause everything is a little better when it’s a hoodie, right?DSC_0280I’ll need to do a little tweaking when I make another hoodie to get the sizing perfect, but I love how it turned out.DSC_0260I also added a band of ribbing at the waist, which I really love.DSC_0291_2

The pants are my own pattern that I’m sloooowly working on releasing.DSC_0286_2What’s more fun than a two-year-old in a hood? I can tell you. Not much.

DSC_0251The lashes!
DSC_0277_2Toddler approved.

 

Linking up to Make It Wear It

When pajama pants make you feel successful..

I know I’m not alone when I say that getting to my sewing machine these days is work. Sometimes life takes over and babies don’t sleep and two-year-olds dump out every box in the cupboard and your sewing table becomes the catch-all for everything.

But when days like that come, pajama pants will rescue you. They will make you feel like successful and productive and like you do something other than wipe noses and bums.

DSC_0670These pants, upcycled from a tee that I loved for years but no longer fit, I had begun sewing months ago. [constructed using the DIY baby pants tutorial]DSC_0669Sometimes it’s the quick and easy projects, the ones that are practical and don’t require details, that give you the most satisfaction.
DSC_0229Because I may not sleep at night or have time to take a shower every day, but I made pajama pants. And that, my friends, makes for a good day.

**Psst… Peek-a-boo Patterns has a sweet Thrifty Thursday deal today! The Varsity Cowl Sweatshirt is only $4! [affiliate link]**Varsity_Cowl_Neck_Pullover