Monday, February 28, 2011

Sweet Faux Necklace {Tutorial} - Fancy up that wardrobe!

Add some fun to any top or dress!  At last, a tutorial for the super sweet faux necklace that I first showed you on my ruffly Valentine dress.  This is such a cute and easy way to add a little fanciness to your daughter's (or yours!) wardrobe.  This "necklace" is removable for washing, or if you just don't feel like wearing it that day, and is totally customizable depending on what you feel like attaching to it or what colors you make it in.  Follow the directions below to make one of your own!  
Note:  I would recommend this for older children who won't be driven crazy by the fact that it isn't an actual necklace to take on and off, as well as keep it out of their mouth.  As always, just use common sense as you can't ever be sure how well the stitching will hold up, so this could potentially be a choking hazard for really little ones.  

Now you can turn any plain old shirt from this...

into this...

in no time {well, very little, under an hour for sure}!

Shirt to attach your "necklace" to (shown above)
Buttons - either buttons to cover or matching buttons (not shown below)
Old, stained sweater or scraps of stretchy fabric 
Elastic hair thingy {that's the technical term we use in our house}
Small beads (I used 10mm wooden beads)
Rotary cutter/scissors
Sewing machine

If using an old piece of clothing, find a nice piece to cut your strips from (I cut off and opened up one of the sleeves of the above sweater).  If  using scraps, read below for how to cut your strips.  Here's my sleeve opened up for me to cut the necklace strips from:

Now, determine how wide to cut your strips.  Really, I just put my bead down next to my fabric and guessed at the appropriate width.  I would say cutting a strip slightly less than double the width of your bead plus 1/8"-1/4" for seam allowance should be perfect (you want the bead to fit snugly inside the fabric).

My width ended up being about 1 1/4" inches wide and that worked great.

Sorry I don't have a picture of my finished necklace strip, but I ended up sewing two strips together to create a long strip about 34" long.  You want to make it a lot longer than you would think because when you starting adding the beads and knotting the fabric you will lose length quickly.  The 34" length ended up just perfect on my size 4 shirt.

Once you have your strip the length you need, fold in half right sides together and sew down the long side using the seam allowance you accounted for.  Be sure to leave both short ends open!

After sewing, turn the tube right side out (I attach a safety pin to one end and push it through to the other end, pulling the fabric gently until it's all right side out...sorry no pics before turning...).  Note:  Pull the fabric very gently so as not to break the seam!  It is a little bit of a pain because the tube is so small, but if you break the seam you'll have to start all over because you'll have a hole in the necklace where the beads will pop out...not cool.

Finished tube turned right side out:

To begin creating your necklace, insert one of the beads into one end of your tube.  Fold the tub in half so that the ends are lined up, and find the middle.  Push that first bead down to the middle of your necklace.  Starting here will ensure that both sides are even. 

Middle bead:

Once you have your bead positioned in the middle, tie a simple knot on either side of it.  The rest is easy peasy!

Find the cutest little helper you have {I suppose you could do this yourself...haha}, who can start putting beads on either side of the middle bead and tying a knot after each one.  My precious helper put the beads in, and I tied the knots.  This is one of the few sewing projects that she can really help with, so she was thrilled!

Continue the bead, knot, bead, knot, bead, knot....pattern until you have a couple of inches left on each end of the necklace.

Almost there...

While your helper is still working, go ahead and gather up your buttons (or cover them, as I did) to match your shirt.  Attach them to the shoulders, where you want the ends of the necklace to lay, by hand.  I would suggest placing them more "on top" of the shoulder than I did.  I think I would prefer that look a little better, though I love how it turned out anyway!

Once you have finished your necklace piece, trim the edges so that they have a clean edge and are the same length, as shown below.

 Tuck the end in a little on both ends of the necklace (I use the end of my scissors to kind of poke it in there evenly...gasp!)

Cut your hair thingy {again, technical term} in half so that you have two equal pieces.

Fold one piece of the hair thingy in half to make a loop, then insert the loose ends into one end of the necklace piece (far enough in to be caught and secured when sewn).

Sew over the end of the necklace piece to secure the ends and elastic.  I like to go forward and backstitch a few times to make sure everything is secured really well.  Repeat the hair thingy steps with the other end of your necklace to finish up that piece.

Loop the elastic pieces on each end of the necklace to the buttons on both side of the shirt.  And... 

Voila!  A boring shirt made cuter!  Fancy Nancy would certainly approve! 

Put it on the little one, and watch the smiles begin!! 

Want it even fancier?  Attach your favorite fabric flower to match your shirt :) 

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I'd love to see any if you decide to make them!

Swimsuit Success! And some 2011 Photography Projects...

Alas, life {and blogging} doesn't always pan out quite as planned.  Though I haven't posted everything anything yet, I actually have the faux necklace tutorial completed with photos.  I just need to edit them and post it.  The stack of patterns I have to make are still in a stack and haven't been touched.  Hopefully this week!  However, I did accomplish one goal...I finished up my little one's bathing suit, and boy I have to say I am super impressed happy with how it turned out!  It fits, and I can't wait to try it out in the water!  I will have to get some pics with my little one wearing it, but I think it turned  out super cute.  Thanks to Dana's post(s) that help me build up the confidence to do it!  Here is a blurry pic of the final project {that I was thankfully able to catch before my camera died...thus, why I couldn't take a better one}.  I bought some fabric to make another suit (one piece), and hopefully I'll have some tips to share...maybe a tutorial...on that one if it turns out okay.

In other news, I am participating in a few 52 week projects that I'd like to share with you.  I've decided to participate in these two in order to enhance my photography skills.  Looking at the pictures, it should be very easy to tell that to even use the word "skills" is a stretch :)  I have a long way to go!  But, it's a fun way to document the year and try to obtain some more photography knowledge along the way.  The first is Paint the Moon Photography's Let's Do 52 project.  This project is on Week 9 and has a couple themes to choose from each week, this week's being "play" or "round".  Each week has two theme ideas, one being more concrete and the other more abstract.  You are invited to interpret them however you like and share your photos on the Let's Do 52 Flickr group.  Below are my Weeks 1 and 2 photos.  You can join any time, so come join in!

1/52 New Beginnings

Week 2/52 - Togetherness

The second project, that I recently discovered, is Project 52:  Glimpse into Motherhood on one of my FAVORITE blogs, Simply Modern Mom.  I don't know how I've been skipping over the Glimpse into Motherhood posts on my Google reader, but I certainly won't any more!  In this project, the idea is to post a photo that portrays a glimpse into motherhood through your eyes.  Obviously, the photos will be very different for everyone, so it will be fun to see photos through the eyes of other moms each week.  This one has a linky list each week, so come join in and link up!  I'm working on my first Glimpse into Motherhood post for this week.  I hope you'll join me!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Random Projects

I have so many things that I want to make and post about!  My head is swimming!  The only barrier is finding the time to post everything with work being so super hectic right now.  That's a story for another day.....basically, the school system is in extreme financial troubles and many changes are in store.'s consuming more time than usual right now and everyone is on edge. 

Anyhow, I have been working on drafting a few simple patterns for spring, and I sewed a swim suit top last night.  Never thought I could do that, but Dana made it seem so easy over at made {and I happened to have a little but of ruffle fabric left over from the twirl dress}.  And, it really was!  I'll share the fninshed product hopefully tomorrow after I finish it tonight.  SO excited about that!!  I hope the bottoms turn out as well as the top.  Anyhow, here is my random pile of sewing projects begging to be completed.....

Hoping to get the swim bottoms finished tonight, the faux necklace tutorial posted in a day or two, and share at least one of the patterns above by the end of the week!  I'd be more than happy to upload any of my hand-drawn patterns if anyone is interested (also for the swing top I already posted about).  Most will be in a size 4.  Let me know!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reversible Tie Back Swing Top {Tutorial}

I've had the idea for this shirt in my head for quite some time, and it has turned into my first tutorial here at Peanut to Princess!  Wahoo!  Thankfully, it turned out pretty close to how I imagined it, it fits, and thus...I feel pretty comfortable sharing it with you.

The only downfall is that I designed this as a spring/summer top to be worn alone, but it's just too chilly to subject my child to the torture of not wearing something under it for pics :)  But, I couldn't wait until it was warm to take pics or post the tutorial, so we just put a top on underneath.  Still looks pretty cute if you ask me (see more pics here)!

I still have lots to learn about tutorials, but I feel pretty confident that anyone with basic sewing skills will be able to knock this out in no time.  It is SO super easy, and all you need is a cute shirt to pattern it by (or some mad skills of drawing out patterns from your model's measurements...actually it probably wouldn't be that difficult to do that). goes...

Materials needed:
- Fabric (I used about a half yard for the main and half yard for the lining for my size 4/5)
- Basic sewing supplies (scissors, rotary cutter, etc.)
- Sewing machine - any will do...even the most basic!
- Bias tape for straps (make your own or buy pre-made) OR make your own straps with tubes of fabric (save yourself the trouble and just use bias tape...the thought of turning all of those straps makes my head spin!)

That's all you need to get started!  Remember, the top is reversible so you can go wild with the fabrics and have two totally different tops!!  Unfortunately, I was trying to use up some fabric from my stash and used a really weird print for one side (from a Halloween project...) so I probably wont be using that side much ever :)

Let's sew!

Part 1: Creating Your Pattern Pieces

First, chose a simple halter, tank, etc. top to make your pattern from.  Other tops will do as all you are doing is creating the basic shape, but be sure to tuck the sleeves to the inside.

Trace around your top adding a little extra for seam allowance (~ 1/2 inch) all the way around.  You wont be hemming this top (yay!), so 1/2 inch on the bottom is fine too.  I just did a little extra to add some length.

Cut this piece out; this will be your front piece (you will cut on the fold).

To create the back piece, trace your front pattern piece onto another sheet of paper (I use freezer paper).  We are going to make the back pieces curved at the bottom, so start about the middle of the shirt and make a curve all the way down to the bottom.  There is no science to this, just curve it how you like it!  I actually made mine a little more curved when I cut it out (made it blend into the bottom line of the pattern a little more...see the cut out shape).  I think it might be cute to start the curve from the top corner as well...especially for a little one.  Since my little one is 3 I decided to go with a more modest approach :)

Cut this piece out and you will have your pattern pieces made.  Easy peasy!  Go ahead and label them, and mark where the fold should be.  **Note that only the front piece will be cut on the fold**

Part 2:  Cutting out Your Pieces - Fabric and Bias Tape

The top is reversible with no exposed seams, so you will need two of each piece - 1 main and 1 lining (there really isn't a "lining" since both sides will be able to be seen, but I'll call it the lining, for lack of a better term, to differentiate between the pieces).

For the front of the top, use your front pattern piece and cut out 1 main and 1 lining ON THE FOLD.  

For the back of the top you will be cutting out 4 separate pieces (2 main and 2 lining); two for each side of the back of the shirt.  Start with the main fabric and fold it in half (or stack two pieces on top of each other wrong sides together) so that when you place your pattern and cut it out you will be cutting out two pieces opposite of each other (does that make sense?).  Put your pattern piece on top and cut it out (you will be cutting through two layers of fabric but not on the fold).  Repeat with the lining to get two opposite lining back pieces.  Once cut, you should have the following pieces (6 total - one of each piece in main and lining fabrics that match)...

I apologize for not taking pics of this next part, but you will also need to cut out your pieces of bias tape for the ties in the back (we'll get to the straps later...).  You need 6 ties (3 for each side) about 12 inches long.

Part 3: Putting everything together!

The assembly of this top goes super finishing edges, hemming, etc.!

The first thing I like to do is finish up the ties (my least favorite part...get it out of the way first!).  If using bias tape, you will simply need to sew down the open edge to close them up.  On one end, stop sewing when you get close to the end, open the tape, turn the end toward the inside, then fold back up.  This will enclose the exposed end of your strap (you only need to do this on one end b/c the other end will be inside the top and wont be seen).  Repeat with all six ties and set them aside.

Next, we need to assemble the inside and outside of the top.  Lay your front main piece right side up, then lay the two back pieces right sides down on top, matching up the sides (as shown below).  Pin the sides and then sew straight down along both sides connecting your back main pieces to your front main piece. 

Repeat the above steps with your lining pieces.  You should now have two pieces that look like this when opened up...

Next, lay one of your pieces right side up (doesn't matter which one) and pin the ties to the edges as shown below. Make sure to pin one at the top on each shoulder slightly more than 1/2 inch down (so that it doesn't get caught in the seam allowance).  Space them out however you like, but you can see about where I put mine (my bottom tie is about halfway down on the sides).  I folded and pinned the ends of the ties down so that they don't get caught when sewing around the edge.

Fold your piece in half to check to make sure that your tie placement matches up (it'll look kind of funky if your ties don't match up right in the back, so don't skip this step!), then open it back up.

Make sure all of your ties are securely pinned, then place your other piece right side down on top of your piece with the pinned ties (the ties will be sandwiched in the middle and right sides of the fabric will be together).  Pin all the way around the edges, leaving the top straight edges open.

Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you chose when creating your pattern), sew along your pinned edges.  **Remember to leave the top straight edges, unsewn (shown with a blue line below).**

Carefully notch the curves along the edge and arm holes (so they'll lay nice and flat) then turn right side out through the open area at the top.  Now you should have this...

Un-pin your ties and press well around all edges.  At the top open edges, fold the main and lining pieces in 1/2 inch and press (see second pic below). Looking good, huh!?

Now, it's time to create and insert our straps (almost finished!)!  Hold the top up to your child to figure out where the front and back pieces will fall, then measure over the shoulder from the top of the front piece to the top of the back piece.  On my little one this was about 8 inches.  Be sure to add an inch to the measurement you get to allow for the seams.  Cut two pieces of bias tape the length you came up with, then sew them up along the side (no need to fold under the edges on either end b/c edges will be inside the shirt).

Fold your back pieces of your top behind the front piece (just like it will be when it is worn) and pin the straps inside the open edges as shown below.  The straps will be pinned inside the outside corner of the front piece, then flipped over to the back and pinned in the outside corner of the back pieces.  Insert the straps between the two layers about 1/2 inch so that they will be sandwiched between the layers once sewn.  It will make sense when you get to this part (if my explanation doesn't...).

Once both straps are pinned in place, start at one corner of one of the back pieces and topstitch along the entire top all the way around (w/ about a 1/4 inch seam allowance).  The topstitching will secure the straps, close the open edges, and provide a nice finish on the edge of the top.

Tie the back ties together, then stand back and admire!

I hope you stuck with me through all of that, and that everything made sense!  Please e-mail me if you have any questions or are confused about any parts.  If you decide to make this top, I would be beyond thrilled to see a picture of your creation!!

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