Did you miss me? I have been glued to the sewing machine making Christmas presents.
I may have rashly talked about Niece November, but only managed one birthday dress with petticoat during this month. Unfortunately, Niece November was supposed to be all the Christmas present sewing for my 8 nieces. My plan failed dismally in the timing aspect, due to unavoidable working, inadvertant sleeping and having lots of friends over to visit, so in my annual rush of production sewing I present to you 8 versions of the free download Oliver + S Ruffled Halter pattern from the Oliver + S Blog, started on December 4 and finishing today. Yay. The relief is considerable.
My criteria for production sewing are 1. Simple shapes 2. No fiddly fastenings and 3. Cuteness factor. I chose the Oliver + S pattern because it looked as if it fulfilled these criteria, could be made from lightweight cotton fabrics (easy to find in the stash, easy to wear, easy to launder) and because it marvellously covered the entire size range of my nieces, whom are aged from 19 months to 11 years and 10 months (although the latter niece is actually a size 10, as is her 10 year old sister, making her auntie's lfe rather easy)
I started with the Melbourne set, despite these being the largest, and likely to be worn the longest versions, as postage to Melbourne is rather slow at this time of year.
The first one is made from Liberty Tana Lawn, with the front lining being a pedestrian cotton batiste.
I made this pretty much to the instructions, and was a little surprized to find that the front wraps around to the back with the elastic applied at the (very generous) width given in the instructions. My additions here were rolled hems for the flounces, cutting the lower ruffles on the straight instead of the bias for fabric saving reasons, and edgestitching the top edge of both the front halter casing and the back elastic casing as I feel this gives a more appealing finish to the gathering. I also made a turned tube for the tie, rather than folding over the fabric and topstitching.
The next one is similar, but uses voile and batiste with no brand name. This one has all the ruffle layers cut on the bias, but in my opinion, if you are finishing thehems, there is no real design advantage to cutting out the garment on the bias rather than on the straight in these light fabrics.
Next I used some Debbie Mum quilting cotton with a border print.
These garments, size XL (10-12) and L (7-8) I found that the overlap of the flounces was a little skimpy, and as I had used a different fabric for the lining layer, I had to adjust the position of the ruffles and cut the lower ruffle a little longer to provide sufficient cover.
I posted these ones off with the purchased parts of the presents, and started on the Sydney set. I seem to have forgotten to take a photograph of the blue quilting cotton print, but here are the next two, in a cotton Indonesian batik (I love this fabric), and another quilting cotton using pretty remnants.
I got a bit carried away here, forgetting that I was doing production sewing, and used French seams and a little secret machine embroidery on the lining hem.
I also used buttonhole elastic for the back, as the Melbourne nieces will be visiting me for adjustments in January, but the Sydney nieces are less accessible, and have no local sewing relatives.
After I ran out of buttonhole elastic, I added a buttonhole tab to regular elastic for the next version. For all of these versions, I lengthened the ruffles for overlap, as again I found this skimpy (size L, M (5-6) and( S 3-4)
Lucky last were the sewing for my smallest nieces, sizes S and XS (18-24 months), who live in Brisbane, and whom I will see over Christmas. The green one is quilting cotton, and the other one is Liberty Tana Lawn and shirting cotton.
I used the same techniques on these versions, but the thought of a toddler flashing the lining constantly encouraged me to add a partial lining of the outer fabric to the top of each ruffle.
I was using remnants of both the Liberty Lawn and the shirting cotton, so did not have a sufficiently large piece to self-line.
The co-ordinating hair clips were made by my daughter.
Overall, I am pleased with the pattern, and the ruffle tops, but feel that the pattern is a little bit too "beginner" in finishing techniques for my personal taste. Pretty good for a freebie though! If I had younger children I would be looking out for the Oliver + S patterns to buy.
Oh, and I made my only nephew a t shirt, - and bought him a screaming monkey slingshot ;). This is older sister revenge for the very loud rattling lawnmower my then childless brother bought my 3 year old. I was kind though, and put in some Lego too, so my nephew still has a present when his monkey gets lost somewhere......