sewing machine, thread, scissors, needles… (a.k.a. your usual sewing stuff!)
serger (completely optional)
Step 1: measure your model (or yourself)!
You need to measure and mark down:
chest to seat (take this on back, vertically, from chest level to the crotch area);
romper’s legs desired length.
This is a bubble romper, with elastic around legs and chest: this is good for you because to achieve this relaxed fit you won’t need to be maniacal in measurements 😉
Step 2: Create your pattern
Draft a rectangle, where:
width = 1,5 x hip girth
height = chest to seat plus leg’s length
This will be the only pattern piece you need, corresponding to front, back AND legs, all together. If you have a T-shirt with these measurements and you’d like to make a uni romper, you can cut out this shape and simply close it in circle with a side seam, right sides facing, then go to Step 4.
Otherwise, go on reading!
I chose to colorblock because:
a. I love it!
b. I hadn’t fabric enough to cut my rectangle in one piece…
c. My ladybug top was perfect in width but too short!
Now, please kindly allow me a digression…
I’d like to share with you some basic rules in my refashion routine: – save time whenever you can (well, this is one of my life’s rules too!) – use existing details, like hems in knits, usually they can save your precious time (see above) – if you need to colorblock, do it like if you want to do that way, not like you need it… (My mom used to add length to my pants when I grew up and the looked exactly like if I grew them up… while if she only had cut them in a different way, adding a knee strip, or some ruffles, they could have looked Cool, not … Extended!)
Let me add here a couple of general tips for sewing knits (I know some sewists are scared from knits… no need at all!): – a simple sewing machine is good, also if a serger is better! – use ballpoint needles (better stretch needles if your knit have lycra inside) to avoid holes: they often appear a couple of washing cycles later; – use an elastic stitch: my favorite are triple straight stitch, triple zig-zag and three-step zig-zag (but a plain zig-zag will absolutely do the trick).
Ok, I’m done, I can put away my schoolmistress’ glasses!
Step 3: Add stripes, please!
In this particular romper, I planned my colorblock so that I could use the red hem as the romper hem, sewing it to the ladybird bottom.
Here’s the how-to:
Cut red strip with height equal to the desired length of romper’s legs (4″ for a 5 years old girl) + 3/4″ for seam allowances
If you, like me, have one of the tops wider than the other, you’ll have to cut and reduce it’s width (in three easy steps):
1. Fold the strip right sides facing, align one red side seam to one ladybug side seam, cut the exceeding red fabric, leaving 3/4″ for seam allowances;
2. sew with an elastic stitch (my favorite is the triple straight stitch) along the short opened side;
3. press seam open.
With ladybug top right side out, slip the red ring of fabric onto the outside of the top, match up the only side seam you have in the strip to one of the side seams of the ladybug top, aligning raw edges; pin here and there.
If you have a serger, directly serge with a four-threads stitch, if you don’t have it, sew with a triple straight stitch (oprional: trim and zig-zag edges).
Here’s the result: it looks nice! Why not keeping it like this?
Uh, certainly, we want a romper… let’s go on, then!
Go on adding strips, alternating the ladybug and the red fabric, until you reach the measured chest to seat (your rectangular pattern piece’s height).
Step 4: Ruffle that top 🙂
We’re going to do something fancier with that last red strip: ruffles!
Disclaimer: This is the only tricky part… follow me and I promise it won’t be as bad as it seems!
Cut one more red strip of fabric, usual length,
height = double height you want the finished ruffle (+ 3/4″ for seam allowances)
– For a size 5 years old, 2″ are perfect –
Close it in circle, as you did for each stripe in step 3.
Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to crease.
Sew one row of straight stitches 1″ from the fold, parallel to it, all around the ring of fabric.
Cut a length of your 1/4″ flat elastic, equal to your model’s chest girth. Secure heads together sewing back and forth multiple times (do not twist the elastic!).
Insert the elastic in the casing you’re creating, put 4 pins to keep it in place, at cardinal points.
While stretching the elastic and keeping it out of the needle’s way, sew a second row of straight stitches to encase it and create ruffles.
Add the ruffled strip to the top of the romper, exactly as you did adding other stripes on step 3, being careful to:
match side seams on one side and pin:
Then the opposite side:
now, sew (but remember: stretch the elastic while sewing!)
Step 5: Legs
Turn inside out your romper, fold in half along the center and cut the crotch like in the picture. Height of the cut is equal to leg’s length you chose while taking measurements.
Here’s what you get:
Sew one row of stitches all around (better use an elastic stitch, this is a stress point!) and finish edges with zig zag or serger.
To create bubble shape to the bottom of each leg:
cut a length of elastic equal to tights girth;
secure heads together sewing back and forth multiple times, creating an elastic ring (do not twist it!)
using your favorite elastic stitch (here I would choose a three-step zig-zag), stitch in place the elastic, to the wrong side of the original T-shirt’s hem, stretching it while sewing.
See my little trick?
Use a red thead in the cone and a white one in the bobbin… almost invisible on both sides!
Step 6: Optional touch: add a bra!
This ladybug top had such a nice feature I couldn’t miss (it’s my daughter’s favorite!): I used top of the “bra” detail and spaghetti straps to add some spice (and to stay on): just cut out those two triangles: Then sew them to the wrong side of the fabric, stitching in the ditch of the seam that join the ruffle to the romper. I’d suggest you to add a simple spaghetti string if your original top is missing this kind of detail…
What do you think, Megan? Is a ladybug bra allowed? Better than white, true? 😉
If you like (my little fashionista does), wear itwith a super simple skinny belt, or made one with leftovers.
That’s it! Now for the fun part: take your model outside in sunny day and start your photo shoot…
I hope you enjoyed my Refashion Tutorial, if you’d like to have more, come to SergerPepper.com… there’s always something new!
PS: Pardon the ramblings… I get passionate when it comes to talking about sewing!