Friday, 1 June 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Flutter Sleeve Top, Dress or Romper

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Today I'm featuring a couple of free sewing patterns for children that didn't feature in 'My Favourite Free Children's Sewing Patterns' post. The reason for this is that these patterns (the flutter sleeve dress and top and romper patterns by It's Always Autumn) are only for size 4T (or actually smaller, but more on that in a bit). I'm putting this info at the top of this post here because if you're sewing for bigger or much smaller kids, I'm afraid this post may not be of use to you. Many thanks to Autumn for making these patterns and tutorials available for us to use for free. 

(image source: It's Always Autumn)

Pattern types:

The top and dress pattern makes a simple 'peasant' style garment with elasticated neckline using just two patterns pieces (the front/back and the sleeve). The romper pattern is slightly more complicated with a shorts section added at the waist with another elastic casing. 

(image source: It's Always Autumn)

Sizing info:

As stated above, these patterns have been drafted for 4T. No indication has been given about what body measurements this correlates to, however there is an explanation that the pattern is drafted for her daughter who, although 3.5 years old, wears size 4 store bought clothes but is petite. Because of the style ease that's built into a top or dress like this, that pattern would probably be suitable for a variety of interpretations of 4T! My current interpretation of a 4T daughter (aged 4.5, fairly tall and slim-to-average build) fits this top well. However, if I were to make the dress version, I'd measure the length of the pattern piece before going ahead, or I'd err on the side of caution and add extra length straight away.

Spurred on by the success of the top, I rushed to print and cut out the romper pattern. Because the proportions of little girl photographed looked different to my daughter's, I added 1.5cm to the lower edge of the front and back pieces that form the top half. Sadly, when Dolores tried it on, it was wayyyy too small, particularly the shorts section, so I donated it to a friend with a 3yo daughter. Therefore, I'd say that the romper pattern would suit a three year old, or very small four year old. Which is basically the age that the pattern designer said it was drafted for, so I shouldn't have been surprised when it didn't fit Dolores!

Fabric info:

There isn't any suggestion for what type of fabric to use for the top/dress pattern, or how much you'll need, but I'd say a light-to-medium weight woven cotton, or even something more slinky like a viscose, would work well. Here I used the leftovers from my Cobra Corsage Luna pants, which is basically a cotton lawn. Cotton lawn is light-weight but a dream to work with; it responds well to pressing yet doesn't crease too horrendously. This pattern is a great scrap buster, so have a hunt through your leftovers to see what you might be able to use. I wouldn't recommend anything thicker than a lighter-weight quilting cotton though. Knit fabric could also be used (see next paragraph). 

For the romper, it is specified that knit fabric be used so it can be pulled on and off with ease. I'd say that single jersey or anything t-shirt weight would be best. I used a piece of 100% jersey (no elastane/lycra/spandex content) from my stash that didn't have very much stretch, and despite the garment not fitting, I could tell that the fabric would have worked fine. 


The patterns are very simple without much info included on the pieces (no grain lines, notches or seam allowance reminder), but I really liked how they only required a few sheets of paper and about three seconds to cut out! I also found the shorts part of the romper pattern really clever. The front and back pieces are formed from the same pattern piece, but you cut away a section at the top when cutting the front pieces which shortens the rise. This saves time, paper and printer ink. 

The construction steps are written in the form of a tutorial in a blog post. I actually really like this (as opposed to a separate PDF for example) because I can follow along on my phone which is propped up next to my sewing machine, and I don't have to get out my laptop. The instructions are very basic, but most of the steps are illustrated by a clear photo, so I doubt it would be too challenging for anyone with a bit of sewing experience. I would have liked the construction steps to be numbered though, so you could find where you had got up to more quickly. 

What did annoy me, if I'm honest, is the amount of adverts on this blog. I know this is a really tricky subject because, after all, this designer has very kindly offered a number of patterns (and therefore masses of her time and effort) for free, and obviously I know that we all have to make money to put food on the table etc, but I found the adverts (some being animated gifs) that appear at the top, side, bottom AND in amongst the content of the actual posts, to be really distracting. It's kind of ironic that I mention this topic today, because I also received a comment from a reader recently that didn't like an advert in the side bar of my blog. Sadly, a couple of adverts, the content of which I have no say over, is the price I have to pay for the free blogger blog hosting, and I receive no revenue whatsoever from those two ads. I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure the ads on the It's Always Autumn blog are the revenue generating type. But like I say, we all have to eat, and it's totally your right to stick whatever you damn well like up on your blog, especially if you're offering content for free . That said, I personally found that using these tutorials with the ads, combined with the lack of numbers for the construction steps, made trying to follow the construction process not very pleasant.

But on to the finished garments. The top, I'm thrilled with. I didn't apply any trim as I felt the fabric I was using was busy enough, however applying trim is included in the instructions if you would like help in doing that. 

Customisation ideas:

  • as per the tutorial, you could try applying pompom trim along the edge of the sleeve, skirt hem or shorts hems
  • ricrac, ribbon, or braid could also be used
  • applied patch pockets or inseam pockets could be added to the dress or top
  • instead of using bias binding flipped to the inside to create the neckline elastic casing, you could create a visible elastic casing with contrast binding which encloses the raw edge
  • for the knit romper, you could cheat like I did and overlock/serge the top raw edge them turn over and stitch to make an elastic casing more quickly than applying bias binding. 
  • for the romper you could use contrasting fabric for the top half and the shorts half, creating the illusion of wearing separates. 

Would I make it again?:

I'm totally in love with this little top, and if the need for another short-sleeved top or dress became evident in Dolores's wardrobe, I'd definitely consider reaching for this pattern again. However, because it's a single size, if she doesn't require such a garment again very soon, I probably won't end up using it again. I wish I'd found these patterns last spring/summer now.


Erikadeperika said...

I like how the top you made is very girly in terms of shape but less girly in terms of fabric used.

I save all my patterns and instructions on Dropbox so I can view them on my phone during sewing!

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