Learn. Choose. Change.

I pledge to learn the true cost, to people and the planet, of what I eat, wear, drive, use and do every day. I choose to consume justly and to increasingly change my habits.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Just Sew: Bias Strip Romper

It was only this past spring that I stumbled on Project Run and Play and was instantly hooked.  Although we don't watch T.V. in the traditional sense in our house, we do keep up with a few shows online.  Despite the over-produced drama, I am pretty fascinated with Project Runway.  I love the idea of the challenge of creating something within specific parameters, and when they take the time to show it, I do get inspired by some of the design elements and sewing techniques.  I do occasionally do some sewing for adults, but I predominantly sew clothing for children, and I often found myself hoping there would be a spin-off focused on the children's industry.  So, the more I read about Project Run and Play and how it was pretty much what I had been hoping for, the more I got drawn in.

Unlike Project Runway, there is a sew-along option for the folks "watching" from home, and I was able to create something for four out of the six weeks.  Then I got caught up in sewing costumes for my daughters' dance production and wasn't able to finish the last two looks.  This "season" I have managed to plan ahead, and am hoping that even if something unexpected comes along, I'll be far enough ahead to compensate.  That's the plan anyway...

The challenge for the first week is a pattern remix, using No Big Dill's Very Biased Skirt tutorial.  Everything I sew is made from secondhand fabric or clothing, so of course, I started with a pile of t-shirts.  I should add here that all of my Project Run and Play entries will end up doing double duty for an art display in October.  Each month our local fiber and textile arts collective features one of its members for our community's First Friday Gallery Cruise, and many months ago I volunteered for October.  Inspired by Halloween, I am sewing costumes representing characters from Alice in Wonderland.  This romper will eventually be part of the Cheshire Cat's look - hence the pink and purple stripes.
After cutting out two rectangles 25% larger than the waist measurement, and with a one inch allowance at the shoulder, I began the process of cutting the printed t-shirts on the bias into strips.  This is where I began to feel like a real Project Runway contestant.  The amount and type of labor involved in cutting enough strips was really out of my comfort zone when it comes to sewing.  I could spend the same amount of time hand-embroidering something and never complain, but repetitively cutting strips - no thanks.
Once the strips were cut, I pinned and sewed them onto the rectangles, essentially creating my own fabric.  Before putting the right sides together, I took the time to pin down the loose ends of each strip so I didn't accidentally sew a strip into a wonky position while sewing up the side seams.

Now it is time to pin up both side seams (leaving a few inches for the armholes) and across the shoulders (leaving and opening for the head).  Although I was mindful to leave the opening for the head a little wider than necessary, I completely spaced out on the part about leaving the legs open after cutting the inseam (three inches for an 18 month old).  So, yes, I pinned (and sewed!!!!) the inseam before trying this on my future Cheshire Cat model.  I did not sew much when my kids were this young, and I seem to have forgotten how an article of clothing like this would work.  You should leave the inseam open and only pin and sew the sides and shoulders at this point.  I also finished up the exposed edges around the neck, arms, and legs while I was at my machine.  Luckily, I had a onesie on hand to borrow snaps from and sewed those into the inseam.
It was a chilly evening, but my neighbor's little girl was wearing a long sleeve shirt that coordinated perfectly.  This will work well for the Cheshire Cat, as our Alice in Wonderland shoot is slated for the first week of October, which can be pretty unpredictable in the Pacific Northwest.  All in all, I do love the combination of the colors and prints, but will probably do a fun applique on my next romper.  I do feel like I was pushed in this challenge, but would definitely only use this technique for a special occasion outfit.  What technique do you use when you are creating something special?



  1. I'm with you, Jenni... I don't like cutting out, but the effect you've created is fabulous!

    1. Thanks! Once I sewed the strips on, it felt more worth it. Also, jersey was not one of the recommended fabrics. I could see how this would be easier even with cute cotton prints.

  2. Wow! Now that I see that it is cheshire cat inspired I totally love this even more!

    1. There will definitely be a post with everything once it is Alice-a-fied. I have been collecting Alice books and other items since I was twelve and am pretty excited about this show. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. The expressions on her face are to die for - I can't look at that happy face without smiling!!! I'm doing a romper too - but ours are so different (I love how this remix can be so versatile!!!) Great job.

    ps- I'm doing all upcycled too ;o)

    1. I had forgotten what it can be like to work with a younger subject. The first dozen shots were pretty awkward, then she started singing and laughing and I got ten great shots in as many seconds. I'm so glad you are doing upcycled, too! Can't wait to see everything everyone has been working on!