Tuesday 28 April 2015

How I made the perfect quick sew romper suit for summer

      With summer approaching I wanted to try and make some garden and beach friendly clothes that could be rolled up small to be stuffed in a suitcase and – most importantly – are comfortable for little ones while they run around having lots of fun. I decided to have a go at making a couple of lightweight romper suits using some spare jersey fabric from the matching daddy and mini me t-shirts.
Finished romper suit with patch pocket

      As normal I wanted to keep things as simple as possible so I created a single symmetrical pattern piece that means there is one piece of fabric for the front and one for the back (both the same size and shape) with a simple patch pocket to the front for detail. I often design patterns where the front and the back are the same, it makes measuring and aligning seams far easier.
      As the legs were going to be stitched together I made the scoop neck nice and big so that one shoulder could be fastened with poppers meaning that the romper suit would go on feet first. This does make it a bit tricky for nappy changes but it’s useful as it means it can withstand the running, climbing and general mayhem of a toddler without the crotch accidentally coming open.
The fabric cut to size

      Cutting the fabric out was easy as with proper sewing scissors jersey cuts like butter with a hot knife and it doesn’t readily fray. Before starting on any seams I stitched on the patch pocket, made with a spare bit of lining fabric from my previous gnome dress project.
I wanted to try fold over elastic for this project, something I hadn’t done before and it proved to be a bit of a challenge. Because jersey is stretchy fold over elastic is a great way to finish raw edges without compromising on the stretch.
Before elastic trim
       Before I could finish the raw edges however I had to attach the side seams, one shoulder and the crotch. On the open shoulder I simply folded under the raw edge on each side and did a row of stitches to keep it looking neat. I used a three step zigzag stitch again to help with the stretch, which finished it nicely on the inside and reduced the risk of fraying or threads coming loose. Having not used fold over elastic before I didn’t know what I was doing and the legs ended up a little bit like bell bottoms as I didn’t stretch the elastic properly as I stitched it on!
Back view finished - note the bell bottoms!
      Thus, I decided to pay more attention on the neck and arm holes. I did a couple of stitches to hold the elastic in place and then stretched it as I sewed with a zigzag stitch, all while keeping the raw edge inside the fold. It was a bit tricky but eventually I got the hang of it and it’s given a lovely stretchy trim edge. Because the fold over elastic is designed to be a decorative trim it is really soft too, perfect for children’s clothes.
Zigzag top stitch on the pocket, elastic trim in place

       Once all the elastic was on all I had to do was hand sew the poppers onto the open shoulder and bingo, one romper suit! It’s already had a good test run and I can confirm it withstands all the joyous calamity that an enthusiastic toddler can throw at it.
Poppers on the shoulder are barely visible
      It seems to be very comfortable and cool to wear - perfect for warm weather - although in cooler climates it looks just as cute with a long sleeved top underneath and little pair of tights. Romper suit making part two will be blogged shortly!

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