Sunday, July 13, 2008

Poor 'Wuh! (And a sewing tutorial, too)

I had the funniest realization the other day... I was trying to get Noah to say his name, and he just kept saying "Wuh", not "Noah". It finally hit me - poor little guy must think we are always fussing at him!!! "Hey, no Wuh!" "Come here no wuh" "Whatcha doing, no Wuh?" "Don't throw things, no Wuh." I bet he thinks that Ellie *never* gets into trouble! In retrospect, no matter how nice I think the name Noah is, it may not have been the best choice... LOL!

I thought I would post a tutorial for making a lined a-line jumper. I did this a while back, and it was on a sewing message board, but I figure someone might benefit from it being on my blog, too. I have it in PDF format, if anyone wants it - just let me know.

The pattern I’ve used for this is “Frannie” by Children’s Corner. This can also be applied to sheath-type dresses or a-line jumpers that do not fasten at the shoulders.

I was taught this method by Lezette Thomason of Children’s Corner in a class she held for my local chapter of SAGA (the Smocking Arts Guild of America). The pattern itself provides fairly good instructions for doing this, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it until Lezette showed it to me. I hope this helps someone – I wish you could all be as lucky as I am and live within a couple hundred miles of this amazing woman!!! Since I know that isn’t possible, I have done my best to try to lay it out clearly. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Cut out pattern and trace all markings onto fabric. Sew shoulder seams of outer fabric and lining. Matching shoulder seams, and centers, pin lining to fabric, right sides together.

Sew around neckline, making sure shoulder seams on lining are even with the shoulder seams on the dress. This particular pattern has a back opening, as the neckline isn’t deep enough to go over the child’s head without it.

Trim and clip seam allowance, being sure to clip the curves so fabric will lay smoothly when turned right side out.

Turn dress right side out and press neckline well.

With dress lying flat in front of you, and right side of outer fabric facing up, bring left side of outer fabric over towards center. Then, take left side of lining fabric and bring it under, towards center. You will pull both the outer layer and the lining all the way across, sandwiching the right shoulder area between them.

This is what it should look like from the side:

Pin together, making sure that the shoulder seams match, and the other parts of the dress aren’t caught.

Being careful not to catch any extra fabric, sew the left side together, starting at one side, and continuing the length of the armhole.

Here it is, sewn from one edge to the shoulder seam. Here you can see the rest of the dress, bunched up in the tube being created by sewing the left armhole.

After sewing the left armhole, this is what you will have.

Clip the curves so seam allowances will lay flat when turned right side out, and press well.

To turn right side out, simply pull the fabric through the left shoulder. The entire dress will come through, and it will look something like this while you are doing it:

Repeat with right side, and press both armholes well. Cool, huh!

Now, you will press open the underarm seams, and matching front to back, sew the outer dress and the lining. You will do this on both sides, leaving an opening on one side large enough to comfortably accommodate your hand (6” is recommended by the instructions given by Children’s Corner).

The easiest way I have found to make this opening is to stitch up to the beginning of the opening, then backstitch to secure your stitches. Change to a long stitch length, and sew to the end of opening area. Switch back to regular stitch length, and backstitch to secure before finishing the seam. This enables you to press the entire seam open neatly and evenly, making it easier to sew closed when you are done.

Once you have sewn these seams and pressed them open, remove the basting threads from the opening.

Smooth the lining over the dress, with the opening facing you.

Reach through the opening, matching side seams, and pin lining to outer fabric at the hem, right sides together.

At this point, I like to stitch a few inches at one of the side seams so I don’t lose my bearings. Continue to pull the whole dress through the opening, and sew around the entire hemline, matching centers and seams.

It will look like a very confused fabric tunnel when you get done with this part! You will now press the hemline that you have just sewn.

The last step is to pull the dress back through the opening, and press again, making sure the fabric is even and there are no areas that are bunched up. Viola!

You now have a fully lined and/or reversible jumper that just needs a few stitches to close up the opening you used for turning the dress. Add a button and a loop to the back opening, and you are done!


If you are using the Frannie pattern, and putting the drawstrings in the sides, be sure to add buttonholes as called for by the pattern.

When using this method for a narrower (sheath) style, or a regular a-line jumper, you won’t have to worry about the casings and elastic or drawstrings. The Frannie pattern has a lot of extra fullness built into the sides and uses these to pull it in.

I personally find the ties to be quite a nuisance with toddlers and preschoolers, so I sew the casings as directed after finishing the hem, and insert elastic, sewing securely at front and back ends of the casing. I use approximately 4 ½” of 3/8” elastic on each side to give it a close, fairly stretchy fit. After inserting the elastic, I hand stitch the inner opening closed, and tack ribbon or a bias tube to the side seams over the casing to give it the look of a drawstring without the hassle.

I have used narrower elastic (1/4”, as called for by the pattern), and found that Ellie really likes to pull her arms into her dress and see how far she can stretch it! 3/8” - 1/2" elastic is much firmer, and has less give, so it’s not as tempting (or fun LOL!).

With the real drawstrings, the gathers weren’t nearly as nice and even, and Ellie would untie them and pull the sides out all the way, causing her to look like she was wearing a tent…!

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