Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sweet little romper

I think babies in rompers are so cute.  When my son was around 12 months, I had about a million of them for him.

While wandering around at the mall, I found this romper for the baby girl:
It’s super-cute in person, but the price tag is not so cute.  And it wasn’t even part of whatever sale was going on in the store.  I went back and forth on whether I should attempt to make it.  I kept looking at it, thinking, It’s just shorts and a top sewn together, but then it had all these details, and I’d have to figure out my own pattern.  I kept telling myself it would be more time-consuming than it was worth.  But, on the other hand, there are some intangibles about making it that might be worth the time, like what about the pride of having made something for my child to wear?  Or what about showing those big store chains that they don’t have the power over me, they can keep their $30 romper, thankyouverymuch.  For those reasons, along with my overachiever tendencies, I dove right in.

First attempt:

So, this was the result of my first attempt.

Yeah, the top came out a little big.  My husband calls it the “gypsy top” because he says it reminds him of the dresses that gypsies wear.  Um, not quite the look I was going for for a nine month old baby.
(I'm not sure she enjoys being my clothes model.) 

I actually didn’t make up the pattern all on my own.  I remembered that I had purchased a romper pattern (on my list of things to make) but it was a sleeveless one, and I really do prefer to have the baby’s shoulders covered.  (Less chance of sunburn.)  So, I used the pattern for the bottom of the romper (I guess, you could really use any shorts pattern that you have), and tried to add sleeves to the top.

I also tried to copy some of the details of the Gymboree romper, like covering the seams at the neck with coordinating fabric.  I so did not need to do that.  I also tried to sew the elastic right on the fabric, like in the Gymboree romper.  That didn’t work that well.  The fabric was really unstable, and there are a lot of squiggly lines.  The result is ok, but not great.  Ok, it’s kind of ugly.  (I read a tutorial later that said to do a zig-zag stitch, so maybe that would have worked better.)

Because the top would have sleeves, you wouldn’t be able to pull the romper on the baby through the top.  So, I needed to add a snap crotch.  I thought the snap crotch came out pretty good, considering it was my first attempt at this.

(Don’t mind all the tears in the fabric.  The pliers for attaching the snaps needed a little bit of finessing before it would do what I wanted it to do.  I guess that’s why they say to test it on some scrap fabric first.  Well, this whole romper is a big piece of scrap fabric, I guess.)

I did try it out with some clearance fabric I’d gotten at the fabric store, so I wasn’t too upset about ruining nice fabric.  I think the romper actually looks kind of cute in this fabric, except for the top that doesn't fit right. 

Second attempt:

For my second attempt, I gave myself a good talking to and decided that I really didn’t need to duplicate all the details of the Gymboree romper, because it wasn’t like I wanted to (or could) make the Gymboree romper.  I just wanted to make a romper, a “me” romper, something cute for my baby girl.  So, I needed to think more big picture.  I had another pattern (the sweet little dress) that I decided had a perfectly nice top that I could use as the top of the romper.  I just slimmed it down a little to be more of a shirt, rather than a dress.  It's definitely ok to use patterns already in existence.  No need to reinvent the wheel!  I also made a few tweaks to the romper shorts to make them a little easier to sew up.

It turned out better, I think:

Even having done it once, for some reason, the snap crotch gave me some trouble.  Trying to figure out how to cut the pieces and attach them so they would snap together ok made me a little cross-eyed.  For the most part, it came together much more easily the second time around.

I think she likes this one better, too:
This was before I put the buttons on it.  Had to get her while she was awake.  A much more modest neckline. 

Lessons learned:
- No need to be such an overachiever.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.  Yes, there are a lot of great sewers out there making their own patterns.  But I don’t need to do that.  At least not right now.  Well, maybe never.
- Patterns are so worth the money you spend on them.
- Don’t sweat the small details if they’ll make little difference in the overall product.
- Knit fabrics can be a pain to work with!  They have a mind of their own.  I appreciate woven fabrics much more now.  Who knew that sewing a straight line could be so hard.
- Interlock knit fabrics can be even harder to work with than jersey knit!  (The second romper is made with an interlock knit from Patty Young.)  For some reason, I thought interlock would be a lot easier, maybe because it was thicker.  Wrong.  It stretched more and would randomly wiggle so much more.
- Liquid stabilizer is your friend when working with knits.  I didn’t use stabilizer at all with the first attempt, but after several episodes of the fabric getting away from me and just squiggling around, I decided I’d try it with the second attempt.  I had it lying out on the table, too proud to use it, until I tried to hem the shorts, and the fabric squiggled like crazy.  So, I put the stabilizer on the second shorts leg.  Look at the difference:
(Without stabilizer)

 (With stabilizer)

Stabilizer is my new friend.

Now, maybe something more simple for the next project...


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