Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ruffle Cardigan Tutorial

We just had family pictures taken by my good friend Marquette who is amazing! Receiving the pictures from the photographer is always more fun than the stress that comes in preparation for it. This time around, the main stress was finding a cute cardigan for my daughter.

It's November, so obviously starting to get a little colder (even for New Mexico). So when I started to visualize what our family would wear (first time taking family pictures with a child!), I thought, "Oh! A cardigan is a great idea! That'll keep her warm(er) and still look great in photos!"

Well, on paper that sounds pretty good, but in reality, finding a cardigan was harder than it looked. Coming from a small town, it's either order from the internet or go to Walmart. Well, as things usually work out, it became more of a last minute ordeal--Walmart or bust.

I must have spent over an hour going through all the stacks and racks of clothes. The closest things I found were all for 18+ month olds (Colbie is 7 months old) and even then there was nothing even resembling a cardigan. After searching over an hour, I spent another half hour just looking for a plain long sleeved baby shirt. You'd think that'd be easy.

It must have been slim pickings that day because I didn't find nada.

I resolved that she'd just have to wear something else.

As I rummaged through her clothes, I found this! And it became the inspiration for this whole post.

We got this shirt from my cousin and his wife. They must not have liked the weird poem on this shirt because it got passed on to us and their boy is younger than Colbie. At first I thought I'd just cut it open and let her where it backwards. But then I started to envision all the photos we'd miss out on or worse, to have that weird saying in them when we took pictures from the back.

So, the ruffled back was born.

Let the tutorial begin!:) This is probably a good time to mention that I am not an amazing seamstress. My mom had me help with a few projects while growing up but I really only know the VERY basics.

I took the shirt. Turned it around, and cut it straight up the front.
Then I prepped the ruffles.

I cut out probably 8 ruffles but only needed 4. These were about 3 - 3 1/2 inches wide and double the width of the back of the shirt (from seam to seam) in length.

I zig-zagged stitched all around the edges to stop the fraying. I probably would have surged the edges if I'd had a surger.

Then I made a hem on one long edge of each of the strips. I didn't even iron it down. Just turned it over and stitched.

Then I baste stitched the opposite long edge and pulled the thread to start creating the ruffles.

Now. This is where the fun part begins.

I wanted to make the ruffles look like they were "built in" and not just added to the top. So I tried to stitch as close to/on top of the seam as I could. As you can see, you start with it flipped over wrong side up. Stitch on top, and then it will fold over and look like the side seam. I used a pencil to draw where the seam was as I got closer to the arms.

After that is stitched, pull the ruffle across to the other side, loosening or tightening the ruffle to get it to the amount of "bunchiness" that you desire. I found that my ruffles were a bit too ruflly so I let them out and ended up cutting off a small piece on the end to get it just how I liked it. It's personal preference, so feel free do your own thing!

Before I pinned my ruffles down and stitched, I sewed down the other side. This part gets a little tricky, but you want to do the same as you did on the last side by turning it under and getting your machine's foot in there to stitch it down. (See pictures.)

After this is done, pin down your ruffles where you like. I laid mine out so that the bottom ruffle ended at the bottom of the shirt line. And then the following rows just barely covered over the previous ruffle's seams. (You can see it in the picture below.)
After I pinned my ruffles, I stitched across, just under the baste line. Then I went back a second time and stitched a second row close to the top of the ruffle. (You can see this in the image above.)

At this point it's basically lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat all the steps, layering the ruffles as much over the first one as you like (make sure you start with the lowest ruffle and then move up). It starts getting tricky once you finally get a ruffle that intercepts the sleeve. This part was by far the most difficult.

When you intercept a sleeve, the goal is to "stitch in the ditch" (A.K.A. stitch as close to/on top of the seam as possible.)

I drew a line to help me know where the seam was. 

However, I had to do a little finagling to get it just right. It's not a perfect science. If you look at the picture, you'll have to pull down the diagonal part, pinch it, and then stitch it down at the right angle. You can do it! I believe in you!! I sewed down the extra parts that were hanging, but you could just cut it. (Here are some pics of what I did.)

After you've stitched the last row down you can choose whether to cover up your last seem. If you like the look of it, keep it! For me, as you can see in the picture above, I had just a few words still popping out so I decided to cover them up with this :)

I cut a piece of fabric 2 1/2 times wider than what I needed to cover up the words on my shirt and about an inch longer than the width of the back of the shirt. Stitched it together with right sides together and made a tube. Then I turned it right side out. 

Next I did my same trick of stitching in the ditch on both sides before sewing it down.
Then I just did one seam close to the top to sew it down. I liked how it looked to have it hanging over a bit instead of sewing both sides down.

Yay! The back is finally done! 

Now for the final details! 

Turn it around to the front of the shirt now and create a seam!  Careful, my machine did this nasty number. :) 

I added a cute little button and a skinny elastic to wrap around it at the top of the cardigan to hold it together.
You can kind of see it in this picture. You can do whatever button style you like. I'm just a beginner so I chose the easiest option I could think of :)

And there you have it! We're done!


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