Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Deadline December Niece Project, Oliver + S Ruffled Halters

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.
SDC10023 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......


littlebetty said...

These tops look wonderful. I must say I've been happy with the pattern before. I'm planning another or my daughter from Liberty, so I'm happy to read your opinion that the ruffles need only be cut on the bias if you are planning to leave them unhemmed. I really couldn't bring myself to cut them on the bias from Liberty

Karin said...

These are adorable! Little girls love ruffles too. I am sure these will be a big hit.

Gabrielle said...

So many darling little dresses - you evidently have a lot of nieces!

Uta said...

So very cute. I mus insist on more nieces, too, when DD grows out of her cute-and-ruffly phase!

shams said...

Yowza, 8 nieces and one nephew??!? And you wanted to make something for each? Are you going to do this every year?

Cute tops, but wow!

Anonymous said...

Those turned out too adorable! Too bad they won't all be getting together--wouldn't it be a fun picture with them all in their matching dresses?

RFLMAO @ the screaming monkey slingshot--I got one of those for my 22 year-old brother-in-law for X-mas too (with something else of course). I think it suits him right down to the ground.

Anonymous said...

They're all really cute, you're going to have some very stylish nieces!

Clio said...

SOOO cute!

Mary Nanna said...


surely you are the aunty all nieces dream of.

I love your fabric choices and admire how you have taken selfless sewing to a whole new level.

liza jane said...

Those are all so adorable I almost can't stand it. Such ruffly cuteness!

kbenco said...

Shams, so far, I have made all the nieces something each Christmas. - the nephew has missed out a time or two, clothes not being very interesting to him. Last year I knit cardigans x3,sewed summer tops x3 and dresses x2, and the previous year I made a nightie or pyjamas and a pillowcase for each child.. I was planning to shop for the older nieces this year but my sister rang me up to tell me what colours they would like for their visiting QLD tops, so I succumbed! I still think it is less stressful than shopping.

Sue said...

Cute tops! Lego has it's own get-back factor as it really hurts when you stand on the little things in bare feet!

velosewer said...

These are all too cute. You really made each piece 'pop' with each fabric choice.

Sharon said...

Lovely ruffled tops, I'm sure they will be loved by all.

Allison said...

Boy, that really is production sewing! Its amazing that you could do all that in so short a time and even have the time to do a little secret machine embroidery detail. What a kind and clever auntie to make all the nieces such pretty dresses!

Carolyn said...

Oh wow, this is an amazing amount of work, and utterly adorable!! So extremely cute! And I love your fabric choices... really beautiful pairings.
And I particularly like that secret embroidery on the hemline...!

(in answer to your comment, no, my sleeves are plain reverse stocking stitch, as in the pattern. I'm intrigued by the illusion of "raised crosses on stocking stitch" though... and I couldn't see it myself!)

Carol said...

You definitely get the award for sewing virtue. Lovely work and lovely gifts to be treasured.

KathyS said...

Lovely tops! I'm printing out the pattern right now to make for my 4 yr old grandaughter. Thank you for the inspiration and the sewing hints.

Audrey said...

You are a super auntie! All the tops are adorable. I loved looking at the different fabrics you used. Ah yes the screaming monkey sling shot. I bought one for myself. It was very effective at getting the attention of my sons and DH when I needed them. Funny thing. I found it several days later, limp, and shapeless with it's howler missing.

MushyWear said...

These are so adorable! Way to go sewing so many of them!