Sunday, July 24, 2011

How To Make a Girl's Twirly "Strip Skirt"

Making a Girl's Twirly Strip Skirt

Pick out two or more coordinating fabrics. How much you will need depends on your child's height and waist size. I picked up one yard each of two fabrics, and had more than enough to create a skirt for my 7 year old who is 50 inches tall. You will also need a GOOD thread that matches your fabric, EXTRA WIDE DOUBLE FOLD Bias Tape that matches your fabric, and thread the same color as the bias tape. Oh, and some 3/4 inch wide elastic long enough to comfortably go around the child's waist with at least 1 inch to spare.

Ideally you need a rotary cutting made and rotary blade. I suppose if you don't have one, nor a family member you can steal borrow one from, you can measure and cut by hand but I wouldn't recommend it. My brain hurts just thinking abouthow long that would take, and how unsteady my hand is.

Once you have your fabrics (I adore Hobby Lobby, they have super cute fabric, grouped by designer, with coordinating fabrics together and they are WAY cheaper than my other favorite place I wont mention here) Measure your childs waist. Multiply that by five. Yes, five. That is how wide you will want your skirt. If you prefer it to be less "twirly" you can go less. Then measure on your child how long you want it to be. I wanted my daughter's to go to about her knee. From where she wears her pants to her knee is 14 inches. I cut my strips 13 inches because by the time you take away for edges and add the waist, it all works out.

For this particular skirt I chose a large print fabric, so I cut my strips 5 inches wide. (Im not going to lie, the wider the strips the less I have to sew together to get to 115 inches) I have done skirts with 3 inch strips.

First, decide which fabric you want to have as your waistband and make sure you set aside plenty for that. The waistband should be about one half the width of the skirt, less if needed, but no more. I didnt want to buy more fabric just for the waistband, so while the skirt is about 115 inches wide my waistband is about 45. Next, figure out which way to lay your fabric to get the most amount of strips, carefully cut your fabric using your rotary cutter.

For this tutorial I used French Seams. They just look SO much better than regular seams. However, they take double the time. To me, it is worth it. If you choose to use regular seams, just ignore the extra steps. If you are fortunate enough to have a serger then that is the best option for nice finished edges and speed. One day I will have one.
Take your first two peices of fabric. Ignore your instinct to place the fabric right sides together. Place them WRONG sides together and sew along one long edge of fabric, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and the end of the stitch, staying close to the edge. I think Im about 1/8 inch here.
It will look totally wrong to you and that is perfect. Grab another strip of fabric and place it to one you have alreaday sewn, again, wrong sides together, being sure to keep with the pattern of your fabric. Then add another.

And another.

And another.

This goes on FOREVER.
Once you have a ridiculously huge strip of fabric pull out your iron and make sure it is full of water.

Starting at one end, fold pieces one and two together, right side facing, getting the sewn seam as close to the edge as possible. Press. Then do the same with two and three, three and four, all the way til the end.

Back at your machine, sew peices one and two together in the direction you steamed them, RIGHT SIDES NOW FACING being about 1/4 inch and remembering to backstitch at start and finish.

After you do your first one check it and make sure that you can't see the edges from the original seam poking through. If you can, just sew another seam a little larger this time. When this is done, the front should look like a normal seam, and the back should be so beautiful and finished that you may want to cry. French seams are THAT beautiful. (Apparently I was so moved by their beauty that I forgot to take a photo, but you can kinda see here how they look. I will add a better one later)

Now do that a million more times til all your seams are finished. Take the two ends together and create another French Seam so instead of a long strip you have a loop wide enough to go around your Suburban.

Trim loose threads and iron the seams all pointing one direction. Now pull out your bias tape and iron out the places where it was wrapped around the cardboard.

Place the first inch or so along the bottom making sure the seams are pointing TOWARD you. I sew with the right side of the fabric facing up, but either way is fine. The seams pointing toward you is important, or when you are finished and taking pictures for the tutorial, your daughter will point out where the seam wasnt all the way down in the bias tape and tell you "You aren't a good sewer mommy"

Back to the Bias tape. First secure it to the skirt bottom with a backstitch. You CAN pin this, but for me, it is easier not to. Once you have done your backstitch, pull back lightly on the bias tape, slightly stretching it as you sew. It will help with the ruffle. Go all the way around the skirt. For our skirt, the bias tape was 36 inches, but with stretching it made it around the entire thing. Barely. When you get to the back to the start, fold the edge of the bias tape under just a tad so the raw edge isnt showing and stitch over it, finishing with a backstitch. Then I turn the skirt and sew just a stitch or two along the opening so it is totally closed. This is your hem. For some fabrics, there just isn't a bias tape that will look good, so you can press and sew a regular hem.

Set aside the skirt and take the peice you have chosen for the waistband. Press in the side about 1/8 inch, then fold it over again and press. (Like a hem along the short sides) Stitch each side.

Then take the top of the waistband and fold it 1/4 inch and press, then one full inch and press again. You should have a few inches left under the folds.

Sew along the bottom of the pressed fold, closest to the rest of the fabric, creating the area for the elastic band to go through.

Fold fabric in half, creating a loop. With right sides together sew at 1/4 inch the left over fabric, TAKING SPECIAL CARE TO NOT SEW SHUT THE WAISTBAND. *Remember the waistband should be about double the actual waist that it will adorn)

If you haven't already, you probably want to refill your bobbin before this next step. Do one or two stitches about 1/4 inch down and backstitch. Without removing your needle, set your stitch to the longest possible. For most machines it is a 5. (Please make sure you are on LONGEST and not widest) Keep stitching all the way around the skirt, staying about 1/4 inch from top. When you get to the end, raise your needle and presser foot but DO NOT CUT THE THREAD. Pull the thread six or so inches before cutting it. Hold tightly to one thread while pulling the fabric away from you, or, use your preferred way of gathering. Your goal is to make the skirt the same width as your waistband.

With your skirt "right side out" and your waistband "inside out"match them up in size, pinning along the way. (The waistband is INSIDE the skirt, with wrong sides facing one another. You will likely have to adjust your estimated width of the skirt. Make the ruffles pretty even, though with this particular skirt its hard to tell if its even once it is finished, so I dont worry too much. As long as one section isn't ruffle-less it is all good. Once you have them matched as you want them, sew together, about 1/4 inch down. It is likely that you will have to help the fabric move along unless you have a walking foot. (Which I just realized I do and didnt use it. Oops) Now pull the waistband up over the skirt top and fold it down over the skirt, making right sides together. Stitch around the skirt at 1/2 inch, creating a French Seam where the waistband meets the skirt.

I had to do this step twice because the first time I was too close and when I finished you could see raw edges poking out. Now it looks like a skirt with a giant waistband. Cut your elastic to the size your child needs, adding one inch. Put a large Safety Pin on one end of the elastic and feed it through, making sure not to twist the elastic, while holding onto the loose end.

Now Im going to let you in on my dirty little secret. When the elastic is all the way through I lap then an inch over one and another and repin it. Nope, I don't sew the elastic. I suppose I should (and if you do overlap it like an inch and make a square with an X through the middle) This works for me. This way I can pass it onto another child without worrying that they will be too tall before the waist fits. It just works for us. I do it on all my skirts and have never had a problem. The girls have never complained of it bugging them. They go through the wash and everything. So pin your elastic together, tuck it in and Voila!! You have a twilry skirt.

PS If there are steps missing I blame the fact that I'm an idiot I was unaware that my settings were off. A special thinks to my gal Jenny for her help.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


This week/month/first half of the year has been incredibly busy. SO much to do and very little time in which to accomplish my goals. Now more than ever, everything is a work in progress. As I mentioned before, I am trying to see my never ending "to-do" list as a way to realize how very fortunate I am, vs. getting discouraged that the room I just vacuumed now has cracker crumbs all over the floor. I am fortunate that most of the time, the children's friends play here. It isn't uncommon to have 9, 10, 11 kids here at a time. How fortunate that their friends are comfortable here, and that I know exactly where my children are and what they are being exposed to. (It goes without saying that the homes they are allowed to go to, I have complete trust in those families and what they may or may not be exposing to my children)

This past week I have been able to get lots accomplished in anticipation of an upcoming move (hopefully things work out) I have been purging like mad, even though the move is 6-9 months away. I figure if I purge now, and then purge again, I will get rid of WAY more than if I had just done it once. My kitchen was a toughy. My mom had come over last year and we purged my kitchen like you wouldnt believe. FILLED the trunk of my van full to the brim, but my cupboards were still bursting at the seams. I have SO much stuff that doesnt get used, especially Tupperware. Anyway, I repurged through my kitchen and got rid of so much stuff. I had 7 9x13 pyrex dishes, I cut that down to two. (They are sitting in my basement with all our other yardsale stuff and I keep debating if I should bring them back up and start doing freezer meals again. That was so easy to make two meals at once and freeze one..... any advice on that one?)

After I hit the kitchen I hit the hall closets. SO much stuff that NEVER gets used. A Lite-Brite cube I got Sage for Christmas back in 2009. I put in the lightbulb and it hasnt been touched once. Lots of extra sweaters and sweatshirts. Three huge bags, just from those two closets. When Aspen got home and saw what I had been doing, she was VERY excited.

She is a born organizer. She reminds me of Emilie Barnes. She knows just how to get everything in a place and she likes it that way. At four years old she would, on her own accord, transfer the wash to the dryer, being careful to set aside items she had seen me hang dry before. When she puts away her laundry, all her clothing would come out so it would be color coordinated in her drawers. (sage is my messiest child and them sharing a room causes Aspen a great deal of stress when it comes to the messes Sage leaves behind) As I was saying, mess and disarray drive her insane. She unloads the dishwasher every morning first thing when she gets up without ever being asked. She is always trying to keep things in order.

So, it is no surprise when she came home that day she was VERY excited. She asked for free reign over their room, which she was granted. The only rule was as she filled each bag, she had to get approval from me for the items. She filled five garbage bags with toys, books and clothes. All I pulled out was one book and one little purse (which was mine when I was 2) She was IN her element. (a few months ago she told me she didnt understand why people get their kids toys for christmas because the kids play with them for a day then they sit under the bed. She thinks instead of items, families should take a nice vacation they will always remember.) That girl is wise beyond her years.

Last night I cleaned out the game armoire. We have a beautiful armoire we bought for our bedroom. It doesnt fit, so our nicest piece of furniture is used to store board games in the living room. We often have family game night, and I play games almost daily when they kids are home and Farren is at work. The huge armoire was so full you couldnt shut it. Games had to go. I started sorting games and puzzles and Aspen and I were able to cut it down by about half. We got rid of about 15 preschool games and all our Melissa and Doug puzzles. That was harder than I thought it would be. I have so many memories of not only my babies, but nephews and friends children struggling with the ABC train puzzle the first few times. It would take forty minutes to piece it together, we would have to sing the ABC song at least 25 times to remember what came next. When they finally attached Z, they were always so very proud of themselves. But, it had to go anyway. The only preschool age game we kept was Crocodile Dentist, as it not only entertains the smallest of children (last week my cute nephew Zane (almost 3) and my adorable niece Gretchen (12 months) played it forever. It also entertains all of my children, and my husband too!

The kids also (finally) finished school yesterday. We had rootbeer floats to celebrate, and I discovered all my kids are weird and don't care for rootbeer floats. Only their friends wanted floats. Crazy kids :) I LOVE year round school September through May, but when May hits, I wish we had the traditional schedual. I would LOVE my kids home all summer AND often through the school year as well. The best of both worlds! (One can dream cant she)

I have LOTS of things I want to do with the kids this summer, I am excited that we can FINALLY get started!!