Reversible + KNIT, First Day Dress

by Dana on July 8, 2014

The first thing many of you ask when I share a new project is…Can I sew it with knits?
Yes! Yes!
The answer is (most likely) YES!

So if you bought the First Day Dress and Top Pattern, and would like to sew it with knit fabrics, then let’s do it!

And let’s do it with Gleeful Fabrics from Sew Caroline and Art Gallery Fabrics!

I’m so happy I get to be part of Caroline’s blog hop, showing off her new fabric line….because not only does it come in gorgeous woven cottons, but a few of the prints come in KNITS!  And when this pretty package showed up in the mail, I thought…..
First Day Dress…..

And how about a dress that’s  FULLY reversible!  So it fits your every mood?


Okay, let’s get started.

We’re making a peplum Top.

This tutorial is based on the First Day Dress Pattern which you can purchase by clicking the button below.  And you can read all the details here.

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You don’t need to use knit fabrics to make the dress or top fully reversible. But it sure makes it cozy and soft, and gives you even more fabrics options to work with.

If you’ve sewn the dress or shirt before then you know that the style is pretty much reversible already.  But to really make it work on both sides, you need to sew a matched hem (page 20 in the pattern), and you need to consider your back closure: either a button or a tie.

The pattern calls for a button and elastic, which works well on one side of the fabric.  However, when you reverse the shirt you end up with a button on the inside, touching the body.  Now if the button is flat enough, you could sew one on each side of the shirt and call it good.

But….if you sew a tie on each side of the back slit, it makes the shirt fully reversible and looks adorable with that little bow in the back.  Hooray!

So grab two different knit fabrics. for your Outer and Lining layers and lets start cutting.

I’m using a polka dot fabric purchased from Michael Levine, and the yellow Sun Springs print from the Gleeful Line by Sew Caroline.

Now let me just say how fantastic these Gleeful knits are.  The fabric washes beautifully (and will shrink a bit, as is expected of all cotton knits—so always remember to pre-wash before sewing!) It’s more of a lightweight knit and it sews beautifully.  I found myself hoarding leftover scraps for future projects.  The fabric would work wonderfully for a pair of  leggings, a baby blanket, basic Tee, KID shorts, or check out Delia’s jammies she made using the same fabric.  Darling!

When it comes to cutting and sewing with knits, just follow the same instructions as outlined in the pattern, laying the pattern piece so the grainline marking runs parallel to the selvage.  This ensures that the fabric will stretch horizontally, from side to side, across the shirt.

Cut out all your pieces, as outlined in the pattern.

Now let’s talk about Straight stitches vs. Zigzag stitches.
• You could sew (most of) the shirt with a serger, if you have one.
• Or you could sew the shirt with zigzag stitches.  A zigzag is a stitch that stretches with your fabric (like the photo of the waist seam below).  A straight stitch cannot stretch, and will snap and break, if it’s sewn in the direction that the fabric stretches.
• Or you sew with a combo a zigzag and straight stitches.  That’s what I like to do.

A good rule of thumb
• Use a zigzag stitch for seams that run in the direction of the fabric stretch, and on areas of the garment that will stretch with wear (around the waist, the neckline, the hem of a t-shirt—if it’s a basic Tee style).
• Use a straight stitch for seams that do not stretch with the fabric (shoulders, vertical side seams).

Now these are not hard and fast rules but rather, recommended guidelines.
So, when sewing the First Day Dress (SWING styles) in knit fabrics….

Sew the following seams with these stitches:
Waist seam (bodice to the peplum or skirt) – Zigzag stitch
Shoulders - Straight stitch
Sides – Straight stitch
Neckline and Back Slit – Zigzag around neck and straight stitch around the slit.
Topstitch around neckline – This should be done with a zigzag as well, so the neck can stretch when a head goes inside.  However, I opted to NOT add a topstitch because I didn’t want the look of an exposed zigzag stitch.  So I just pressed the neckline well with my iron and skipped the topstitch.
Armholes – Straight stitch. These armholes are large enough that they won’t need much stretch, so a straight stitch is fine. And since the armhole stitching is more of topstitch, I prefer the look of a straight stitch here.
Hem – Straight stitch.  If you were sewing a basic Tee, you’d want a zigzag, since the hem of shirt often stretches around a waist.  But with this particular peplum style, the hem won’t stretch very much, so a straight stitch is great.

When sewing with knits it’s important NOT to stretch the fabric as you go.  Try to let the machine feed the fabric for you.  It helps to hold on to straight pins (photo below) with your right or left hand to guide the fabric through without it stretching.

Now let’s talk about the back tie.

Instead of using a button and elastic, let’s sew two strings—each about 15 inches long—into the back slit.
You can use all sorts of things for the tie: bias tape, lace, twill tape, fabric, etc.
What I love to use is knit fabric string. There’s no sewing involved and it looks really cute.

To do this, cut a skinny strip of knit fabric right along the grainline (parallel to the selvage).  Then yank and pull the string and the edges will roll up, sort of making a “tube” of fabric.   And you have your strings!  Easy!

Then insert each string in between the Lining and Outer layers.  It’s easiest to go in through the armholes and then to the back slit.  Pin and sew each strring in place in the two corners of the back slit.  Make sure you leave enough room for the seam allowance at the top of the ncekline (as outlined in the pattern instructions).

Follow the rest of the pattern details for sewing your shirt, and you’re done!

One reversible and STRETCHY top, ready for whatever mood you’re in.

And when it comes to tying the tie in back, here’s another helpful hint to get it to lay flat and in the proper direction….

Whether you’re right-handed or lefty:
• Tie the strings one over the other.
• Then start tying your bow with whichever side of the string is “up” (left photo below)
• If the left side string is higher (or “up”), turn that into a loop first with your left hand (or vice versa if the right side is “up”).
• Then with your right hand, wrap the other string around and pull it through to make the other side of the bow.

I know it seems silly to explain. But it can be frustrating when your bow won’t lay as flat as you’d like.

Now it can!

And that’s all folks.
Happy Sewing!


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the First Day Dress Pattern is HERE!

by Dana on June 30, 2014

Whether it’s your first day of school or a lazy day at home, everyone deserves a dress that makes them feel special.  So dress it up, spin around, throw on your boots or a pair of shorts, and just be you!

First Day Dress Pattern – $10
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The First Day Dress is a PDF pattern, ranging from sizes 2 to 10 years old.
There are 5 different style options—each can be made with or without sleeves.  And there are 4 different lining options to make it fully or partially lined.

If you’ve never sewn a lining, it’s so much easier than you think.

And the result is beautiful.  All those seams are hidden, the garment looks polished, and hey your friends might even think it came from a store!
You’re that good.

So make your dress twirl!  Keep it straight.
Cut it short.  Or add on sleeves.

The choices are up to you!
And there’s something for everybody.

Here are the details….

This is a 46-page PDF document, with detailed information and pattern pieces for sewing a First Day Dress or Top.
Instructions are easy to follow, with beautiful photos and illustrations, and a conversational tone that helps you feel like I’m right there next to you, joining in the sewing fun!

Advanced Beginner +
Of course I encourage anyone to push themselves and take on a challenge.   So if you’re a true beginner, don’t be scared off.  You can always give it a shot!  Or grab a sewing friend to coach you along the way.  Sewing is always an adventure!

The First Day Dress comes in 5 styles.  Each can be made with or without sleeves:
• A-Line Dress
• A-Line Top
• Swing Dress
• Swing Top
• Swing Dress/Top with Front Placket

• The pattern ranges from 2 to 10 years old.
• Sizes are labeled according to age and based on the average size of a child, similar to what you would find in retail stores.

The charts below help you find the proper size and are included in the pattern with details and tips.

For each Dress or Top you need:
• Outer Fabric
• Lining Fabric
• Back Button
• 6 inches of Elastic Cord
• small amount of Piping (placket option only)
• front buttons (placket option only)

Fabric types:
• Quilting cotton, medium-weight cotton, home decor fabrics, broadcloth, linen, lightweight cotton, etc. (more details and the chart below are included in the pattern).

DOWNLOADING the pattern
• After purchasing, you are sent a link for downloading the pattern to your computer.  This is sent to the email address attached with your paypal account.  When you open the download pattern link, make sure you save the pdf file to your computer so you always have it for future use.
• The file size is 3.6 MB

• You do not need to print every page.  A chart is included, showing which pages to print for each size. 
• Pages print to standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper (for printing outside of the US see below)
• Pages are pieced together by trimming along the border, matching them at the markings, and taping together.  I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible with detailed instructions in the pattern itself.

Printing in another Country (outside of the US)
The pattern was created for standard US printers but should work for other countries as well. There are measuring rulers on the side of each page (in inches) so you can see if you’ve printed to the proper print size. The pattern images do NOT print to edge of the paper…so I recommend printing to your standard size paper, checking the ruler, and matching the pattern pieces up as outlined in the instructions.

And that’s about it!
Ready to Sew??

First Day Dress Pattern – $10
Add to Cart

• Instant payment is through Paypal
• E-check payment through Paypal will delay your pattern download a few days.
ACCOUNT. This email address is where the info about your purchase and download instructions will be sent.
• You will receive a few emails confirming your payment and providing info about downloading the pdf pattern to your computer.

When you’ve finished sewing, share your photos with us!
• Instagram them with the tag #firstdaydressmade and tag me as well @danamadeit
• Share them in the You Made it Flickr group.


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First Day Dress pattern NEXT week!

by Dana on June 26, 2014

I’m so happy to report that….the First Day Dress pattern will be available NEXT WEEK!
It’s been a long time in the works.
And you guys have been patient. Thank you.
The pattern ranges from size 2 to 10 years old, with 5 different looks, and 4 different lining options.

I have most of the sizes tested and covered.
But I need 3-4 people to test sizes 8, 9, and 10. 
If you’re interested please leave a comment and include your email address.
Timeframe is short and would need to happen in the next few days.
* UPDATE:  I have enough pattern testers for the larger sizes now, but thank you THANK YOU all for offering. You guys are so great!


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Hi friends.
I hope your summer week is off to a good start!
And if your name is Melissa, with a #78,  it’s off to a really good start.
YOU are the winner of the Forest Feast book giveaway!  I’ll email you with more info.

And thank you guys for entering.  I’m so happy you love beautiful books too—that makes me want to share more!

And for those who didn’t win…how ’bout a consolation prize?
Me, Kate, and Kelly chatting it up at Baby Lock headquarters?….along with fantastic words of wisdom from Nancy Zieman, a quilt we made out of sugar cookies, and the realization that I talk way too fast? (no wonder my dad never understands me).
That kind of stuff?

Then just hit play!
It’s the Common Threads video by Baby Lock.
Virtual high-ten to anyone who understands exactly what I say….

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