elastic thread or thin elastic cord
thin braided elastic (1/8")
thick braided elastic (1/2" ) or soft waistband elastic
trimmings of your choice (lace, ribbon, appliques, etc.)
thin cardboard for templates (cereal boxes work great!)
Step 1: Measure and cut your pieces
(a) the dress (b) right side of bloomers (c) left side of bloomers (d) spaghetti strap shoulder ties- 1" x 12" (e) optional headband (scraps) can be used for pockets on the dress or bloomers, a bonnet, matching fabric strip flowers, ruffles for bloomers, etc.
What's great about using a pillowcase is that most of the work is done for you. Piece (a) is already seamed at the sides so it's ready to be turned into a dress. Pieces (b) and (c) are seamed at the sides as well so once they are unfolded they are shaped like little plateaus; perfect for our bloomers. Pieces (d) are seamed at the bottom and will be cut in half at that seam to create 4 strips for our spaghetti strap shoulder ties and piece (e) is a nice big pillow case hem which is perfect for a headband.
How to Measure your Pieces:
(a) The dress- I like to use a dress that already fits the recipient perfectly as my guide for the length, making sure to leave a 1/2" hem allowance at the top. If it is going to be a gift for someone else's baby, ask the girl's momma what size she is currently wearing and use this size chart as your guide. Do NOT just go by age- e.g. she's 18 months so she must be wearing that size- my youngest will be 3 in June and she is currently wearing 18-24 months clothing!
(b) and (c) The bloomers
It is really hard to envision, but these are the sides of the bloomers shown right side up. Warning: small amount of math coming! The total waist measurement (circumference-wise) of the bloomers should be the actual waist measurement of the recipient plus a few inches. Divide that number by 4 and that should be the measurement for (1) on your template. Feel free to round up. It's not exact. The length (2) will determine... the length! Tricky, huh? The leg hole (3) determines the size of the... leg hole! Whoa... did I lose you?! The crotch (4) will determine the space between the leg holes. Although that area on babies is rather small, please remember you will need room for diapers! (cloth diapers means even more room) The length of the front and bum seams (5) will determine the rise (height from crotch to waist) and the curve of them will determine how much room is inside the bloomers (the steeper the slope, the slimmer the bloomers)
Note: These can be customized to your taste, e.g. longer length, wider leg holes, etc. Experiment a little bit to see what you like.
Since we are tracing and cutting along the seams of the pillowcase, we will end up with two plateau shaped pieces...
(d) The straps - I tend to do 1" wide strips for Spaghetti straps. The length is totally up to you.
Step 2: Hem the top edge of the dress (or do a rolled hem with a serger)
Step 3: Shirr the Dress
This is a process in and of itself so if you are unfamiliar with how to shirr, please check out "Shirr Thing" for some help! Shirr as far down as you see fit. I did 7 rows.
Step 4: Spaghetti Strap Shoulder Ties
Fold the strip in half right sides in and stitch down the middle. Attach a safety pin to one end and insert it through the tube. Guide it though to flip the strap right side out. This will be a slow, careful process. Once flipped, tuck the ends in and stitch closed. Press them with an iron to achieve a crip, finished look.
Step 5: Attach the straps to the dress
Pin the straps to the dress set in from the sides a bit. Be sure to attach them right onto the first row of shirred stitches so you don't affect the ruffle. Tip: The straps in the back should be slightly closer together than the straps in the front. This will help to prevent the straps from slipping off the shoulders :)
Step 6: Embellish the dress
I used a soft cotton lace in an antique white. I lined it up and stitched it to the inside of the bottom edge. Again, because this was a pillowcase there was no need to hem as it was already done for me!
Step 1: Hem and embellish bottom edge
Step 2: Leg Ruffles
Cut the thin braided elastic to size - slightly bigger than leg measurement. If it's too big it's not a big deal, if it's too tight, YIKES! I went with 8" for size 3-6 months and it will be nice and loose :) Fold the elastic in half and mark the halfway point with a pen. This will be a great reference when attaching it to the fabric.
With wrong side up and starting at one end, line up your presser foot with the side of your lace and center your elastic under your needle. Using your handwheel, apply a few stitches to hold the elastic in place. Once it has been secured, stretch the elastic until the halfway mark you made meets the seam in the middle of the plateau. That's how much tug you should be giving the elastic while feeding the fabric through. Keep in mind that you will have to use your other hand to gently pull the fabric back in order counter that tug or you will not stitch anywhere. (Think running on a treadmill.)
Step 3: Assembling the bloomers
Place the two plateaus on top of each other with right sides in then stitch just the curves of the plateaus (marked as 5 on our diagram). Be sure to avoid stitching the crotch pieces (marked as 4 on our diagram) You can use a serger or a zig zag stitch to clean up the raw edges.
Step 4: Adding the waistband
*You can add more to it if you like. I wanted to find some super skinny ribbon in a soft minty blue to weave through the lace and tie a bow, but I was unsuccessful. I did add a ribbon bow on the front straps of the dress and the legs of the bloomers.
And there they are in all their antique pillowcasey glory!