Monday, August 22, 2016

Up-cycling Window Valances into Toddler Dresses

My baby girl is finally getting old enough that it was time to move from a portable bassinet for sleeping to a more permanent crib.  While getting the location of the crib cleared out and the bed set up I pulled out the bag that I had stored my baby girl bedding in since our family’s last use of it.  Tucked in with the sheets, bumper, and bed skirt were three valance curtain panels.  These panels had been perfect when I first set up my eldest daughter’s nursery years ago, but after several moves and some custom bedroom paint they just didn’t fit the room the new baby was going to be in at all.  My first thought was to put them in the bag of clothes items we had outgrown and were getting ready to donate.  But before I could actually bring myself to do this pinterest struck again.  I had been posting ideas for up-cycling different types of clothing all week on my sewing board and the idea of up-cycling these darling window treatments was too irresistible to pass up.  So I dug around and looked through my baby and toddler patterns until I found something that I thought would fit the length and width of the panel well.  I ended up choosing the pinafore dress from Simplicity Pattern #2461.

After cutting out the pattern pieces and looking over the sewing directions, I decided that I only had enough fabric to do view C out of the curtains because sleeves in view A or B would not work right because of the style and layers of the panels.  The pattern itself also called for an open and curved back on the pinafore which worried me because the layers of material weren’t going to look right with a curve and a ruffle in them.  It was easy to feel a little frustrated and I went back to my pile of patterns and tried to find one that might look better.  I didn’t have anything that I thought would work any better than the pattern I had already chosen.  Which meant at this point I was going to have to be creative or give up on the project.  These curtains I admit hold a great deal of sentimental value for me and the idea of giving them new life and letting them be used one last time had me determined to figure out how to make this project work.  After some serious thought and moving pattern pieces around a bit I decided to alter the dress style itself.  I left off the back sections completely and opted for two front pieces.  One front piece to work as intended and one to work as the new back piece so these curtains would work out in the design the way I wanted.  Since this pattern is a multi-size pattern it gave me the flexibility to choose the size 3T that would fit exactly with length of the curtains.  I cut the two front pieces out one curtain and had just enough at the top for the yoke sections as well.  It surprised me that I was able to get an entire pinafore out of one panel and after looking at the other two panels I decided I would just be crazy enough to try mass production sewing on a small-scale and make three dresses at the same time.  Looking back on the project now I can honestly say I am not sure what I was thinking.  By using pre-sewn curtains it actually took quite a few of the steps out of the project and made it faster to complete, but I now had three of them to make so I am certain it didn’t save the kind of time it would have if I had only been making one.

After finishing the pinafore itself I knew I was in it for the long haul because I wanted the cute under dress with the short sleeves to go with it.  So I ended up using a 40% off coupon at JoAnn’s and found some really cute moss-green fabric to match the valance colors.  While I was shopping the color choice I wanted brought my fabric options down to three, satin which dries with definite water spots when it gets wet so not a good choice for a baby who drools and spits up, an acetate which can only go to a dry cleaner also not the best choice for a baby or toddler, or a pretty cotton poly blend that was machine washable.  I can’t stress enough when you fabric shop for small children always take the time to read the care instructions on the end of the bolt.  It will make you happier in the long run so you don’t accidentally ruin all your hard work because you forgot to read it and washed something that shrank or stained.

Things I loved about this view A & B dress pattern:  I really liked the short sleeve vs. long sleeve option.  Living out here in the desert we don’t need long sleeves very often and this versatility was nice.  I absolutely loved the way they used the bias tape along the neckline and collar.  Collars are always something I have struggled with a bit and the directions and bias on this section really made this collar much easier to put on.  Things that need to be fixed about this dress pattern:  In step 16 where it goes over the sleeve directions it doesn’t reference which sleeve option the directions apply to or that they apply to both.  You have to read ahead to 17 to figure out that it applies to both sleeve options and a little clarity here might be useful.  My Tip:  For the step of hemming bottom edge zigzag stitch the very edge and set you stitch width to the 1/4 inch they say to press.  This will give you automatic fray prevention and a fold line so you can skip ironing those teeny tiny edges and possibly your fingers.  I figured this out the hard way.

Things I loved about this view C pinafore pattern:  This particular dress has an option for a super cute butterfly shaped pocket.  I know I didn’t use it on my up-cycling project but it is really cute and I definitely see myself using it on a future project.  The pattern sews together well enough that I had no problems switching the back section out for a second front piece allowing you to substantially change it into an almost completely different dress giving it extra versatility.  My TIP:  After sewing my yoke section down completely my stitching line across the front as not completely straight.  I covered this with cute little green daisy flower trim.  You will want to be extra careful when sewing this down to keep the fabric from slipping around at all or be prepared to cover that seem with a bit of trim or ribbon.  I also used a package of bias tape in a matching color along the arm holes for the shoulder ties instead of fiddling with making my own ties.  If you opt for this short cut be mindful that bias tape does come with random seams in some packages so be prepared to cut around those or use them.  I cut my bias tape to the length they had you cut the fabric for making your own ties.  I also recommend that you cut them a little longer than this.  It will give you a slightly more draped bow when you tie it on the child wearing it.

This pattern also comes with pieces and directions for shorts or bloomers.  While they look cute I can’t say much about them because I didn’t make them for this project.

Overall I give this pattern 5 out of 5 stars because even with the lacking reference on the sleeve instructions it wasn’t difficult to put together and it is super versatile and has tons of styling options written right into the instructions and photos giving different trim and contrasting collar suggestions.  It really gets your creativity flowing and allows you see some of the options you have.  Finally don’t be afraid to add things like the decorative buttons I put on the front of the pinafore for extra cuteness.  This only lets you express your talents a little more and personalize your project a little better.

This entry was originally posted on July 31, 2014 on my previous blog.  I am currently moving all of it's contents to this blog.

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