Did I say jacket? Ahem. I meant apron. (Shown with Mr. Pants's beloved Moomin apron found in Stockholm; I copied it in the owls for Shmoogie, who is about to be old enough for the kitchen.)
Did I say jacket? Ahem. I meant apron. (Shown with Mr. Pants's beloved Moomin apron found in Stockholm; I copied it in the owls for Shmoogie, who is about to be old enough for the kitchen.)
Obviously, the basic folding pattern for a box-pleated ruffle is not too complicated. But... then there are the details. I have a few tips for the basic process and then what I figured out for how to deal with the end of the ruffle in three different situations (all seen on the 'Paris' apron).
Create and Attach the Basic Ruffle
First, you need to cut strips of fabric that will make the ruffle. How wide they should be depends on how deep you want the finished ruffle to be and what seam allowance you intend to use when attaching the ruffle. Add those two numbers together, then multiply the total by 2. That's how wide your strips should be. I cut mine 2.25" wide.
The total length of your strips needs to add up to a bit more than three times the length of the edge you will be applying your ruffle to.
Sew all the fabric strips together end-to-end, making sure to keep the seams all on the same side. Fold your new super-long strip over lengthwise and iron in a crease all the way down.
The material I used was 100% cotton, but from a business shirt that probably had a no-iron finish on it, which meant it was hard to iron a crease into it. Because of that and because I'm hoping this will keep the pleats nice and crisp for a while, I ironed some fusible hem tape (left over from IKEA curtains) inside the fold. If you want to use fusible tape, test first on a scrap of your fabric to make sure it won't show through. Also, iron the crease down the long center of your strip once before trying to put in the fusible. The crease will be a simple guide for you to lay the fusible neatly lined up.
1. Using some kind of guide to keep your pleats evenly sized (I counted pinstripes; slightly crazy-making), start to pleat your ruffle. Leave a bit of a tail at the end to make things easier. You won't need to iron every pleat at this stage if you've used fusible tape, just crimp with your fingers and put in a pin.
2. Stitch a line along the whole raw edge of the pleats to hold everything in place. Make sure your stitching line is inside of your final planned seam allowance so that it won't show later (e.g., if you've planned a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch less than 1/4" from the raw edge). Take your time with the machine because there's a lot of layers of fabric here. You might even want to use the handwheel instead of the foot pedal for some or all of this part (especially if a baby is sleeping in the next room). It's best to remove the pin from each pleat just before you sew over it, after it goes under the presser foot, so that it does its job keeping the pleat in place, but doesn't end up distorting the fabric permanently.
3. Now pin your ruffle to the edge of your fabric, matching up the raw edges and putting right sides together (your ruffle probably doesn't have a right side, but you know what I mean). Pin in the ditch of your pleats so you only have a few layers to go through. On top of the ruffle, pin a strip of single-fold bias tape, making sure the crease in the bias tape matches up with where you plan to put your final stitch line.
4. Stitch through all layers, right along the edge-crease of the bias tape. This is actually going to be easier than stitching across the pleats in the first step was, even though there are more layers of fabric, because the pleats are already secure and you can take your pins out before they go under the presser foot.
5. Iron the seam out flat so the ruffle comes off the edge of the fabric and the bias tape folds back over the raw edges. Pin the bias tape in place and stitch the edge of the bias tape to the main fabric.
Detail One: When the ruffle ends at a hemmed edge
Attach your ruffle to the proper edge, making sure to leave some extra ruffle past the edge of the fabric you're stitching to.
Use your seam ripper to free up the last pleat, both from itself and from the fabric, and make a small rolled hem (fold over about 1/8", twice) and stitch that in place. Realize that you will need this finished edge of the ruffle to line up with the final finished edge of the fabric, not the raw edge you see right now.
If you are finishing the perpendicular raw edge of the fabric with single-fold bias tape, leave about a half-inch of bias tape hanging off the edge. Stitch the bias tape onto the fabric. Your stitching line should end at the point that the fabric seam allowance meets the finished ruffle edge. Take a few backwards stitches to secure everything at that point.
Iron the bias tape back over the raw edges, tucking the tail of the bias tape back underneath the rest of the bias, so it's sandwiched inside. Stitch down.
Detail Two: When the ruffle is set into a square neckline
Align your ruffle so that the pleats appear evenly centered on the final opening (turns out, I had a little trouble with that, but that's ok). When pinning your bias tape in place, cut a piece of bias tape long enough to go around the whole neckline and start pinning by matching the center of the bias tape to the center of the ruffled edge. Don't pin the tails of the bias tape to the rest of the neckline yet. Stitch all three layers together along the ruffled edge, starting from before the cut opening (the seam allowance amount before) and ending the same amount past the other end. Backstitch at both ends for security.
(click on this image to see it larger)
Now, what we need to do is make the bias tape turn a corner that won't cause a pucker, while also enclosing the raw edges of the ruffle and the neck opening.
1. Clip into the corner of the cut opening (to the end of the stitching line you just made when you attached the ruffle).
2. Holding the neckline right side up in front of you, flip the ruffle up into place.
3. Tuck the bias tape and end of the ruffle behind the raw edge of the neck opening.
4. Fold the whole side of the garment over onto the neckline, which will expose the seam you will be sewing. The ruffle probably has extra seam allowance, so don't try to match up the raw edges of the neckline and the end of the ruffle, just make sure they are parallel.
5. Holding things in place and flipping the whole sandwich over, fold the bias tape down, away from the neckline at a 90-degree angle from the edge which has the ruffle already attached. Then, fold the bias tape back up, so that it will now be lying in place along the raw edge of the side of the neckline. But, leave a little pleat in the bias tape when you make this last fold up. This little pleat is what will allow your finished neckline to lie flat, without puckers at the corners. (I cheated one side and did the other just right, I'll show the comparison at the end.)
6. Put in a pin to hold it all together. If you put the pin in aligned with the seam you'll be stitching (instead of perpendicular, like I did), you'll be able to try folding the bias tape back into final position to check that you've left enough of a little pleat in the corner. (The photo in step 9 shows the effect of a little too small of a pleat. Oops.)
7. The view from the other side. Note that the garment is still folded to allow the seam allowance of the neckline to line up with the ruffle's raw end. Keep it that way while you sew.
8. Stitch the bias tape to this half of the neckline, starting a little ahead of the ruffle's attachment stitch line and backstitching up to meet it exactly in a corner. The tail of the ruffle will be caught between the bias tape and the garment fabric.
Do all the above on the other side.
9. Fold the bias tape back into place and iron it down. Trim off the excess tails of the ruffle and stitch the bias tape down, which will neatly cover all raw edges.
Hopefully, both your corners turned out nicely. :)
Detail Three: When the ruffle is at the top of a patch pocket
This one is pretty simple! Attach the ruffle to the top of the pocket the same way as ever, making sure to leave a good tail of extra ruffle hanging off at each end. Iron all the edges of the pocket under, including the edges of the ruffle (you may need to use the seam ripper to free the last pleat so you'll be able to fold the edge under). Stitch the pocket to the garment on the machine, leaving the ruffle free. I found it easiest to attach the edges of the ruffle by hand. Fold them under twice and stitch to the garment fabric, leaving the front layer of the pleats free.
As late as Monday this week, I was having a hard time coming up with good ideas for a "Paris" apron. I was sad that I wasn't coming up with anything, because Paris is special to me and I wanted this apron to be special. Finally, I got a clue and stopped worrying about whether "people" would recognize this as a "Paris" apron and started thinking more clearly about what Paris is to me...
Paris to me is... fussy, frivolous detail, paradoxically mixed with a minimalist aesthetic... delicious breads and pastries... and also, my dad, who loved Paris very much and got to travel there fairly often, both with my mom and for work.
The main fabric is a sturdy canvas, which I got on that textile warehouse trip and its contents weren't labeled, but certainly cotton and/or linen. It makes me think of the canvas-lined baskets traditional bakeries let their bread rise in. The blue trim is one of my dad's business shirts.
The box pleated ruffles were a job! I adore them, though. My fingers are a little raw from all the pinning, but I did get to work out some of my app-launch nerves while crimping pleat after tiny exact little pleat.
The pattern is a slimmed-down modification I did on the 1929 "Magic Pattern". I used the pattern as written last year for the circus apron and made this modified version of it twice for DiDi's Christmas presents. (The modifications were: taking out the extra fabric for the back pleat and moving the whole curved side seam in a good inch or inch and a half to make the strap behind the neck narrower and the fit across the bust more attractive without having to put in a dart like I did on the circus apron.)
I'll post a tutorial on the finer points of box pleated ruffles tomorrow, or possibly next week. It's up! :)
So, does this apron say "Paris" to you? Or more "Downton Abbey fast forward ten years"? (Except Downton Abbey's aprons would have been perfectly pressed, of course.) And have you seen Downton Abbey? So much fun.
And... what do you think of when you think of Paris?
This project is very close to my heart and it's the one I've been most excited to share, partly because look! I designed more fabric! and partly because I don't think I've ever given my mother-in-law a really great present before and this one? This one was really great.
First, I have to say, I would never have thought to give anyone an apron as a present. Never. Way too much chance of a scene like that one in Father of the Bride when the fiance gives his future wife a blender and she spends the rest of the evening in tears and almost calls off the wedding, you know? So, when DiDi commented on the circus apron that she would love to have one from that pattern... a whole new field of possibilities opened up.
I mulled it over and mulled it over and remembered a Martha Stewart idea from years and years ago where you printed a family recipe onto fabric and slapped it on a store-bought apron as a pocket. That idea swam around in my head and met up with mentions I'd seen of Spoonflower, where you can design your own fabric to print by the yard, and some design ideas started forming and my dear brother-in-law scrounged up recipes for me and I started fighting with GIMP and eventually, at long last, DiDi got two perfect aprons.
Clam chowder is a Christmas Eve tradition from her childhood. When Mr. Right and I got married, DiDi made us a family recipe binder and one of the pages was a copy of the scribbled ingredient list and very basic instructions, along with a note saying in part, "I remember calling Mom and writing this down one long-ago holiday."
I drew a parsley leaf, a carrot slice, and a celery slice and played around with them in GIMP, coming up with design elements I liked, and then at the last minute Mr. Right and I agreed it really needed some clams, so I added those too. The recipe was originally on white paper, but changing it to a matching green was pretty simple in GIMP (once I figured a few basic things out) and unified the whole thing nicely.
I'm not sure if she guessed there was another one coming - Pickled Peaches, another favorite Christmas tradition, and this one in her mother's handwriting, which was what I was looking for all along (thanks, Bro!).
The "Apple Cider" fabric design was really for this all along. Cloves and cinnamon sticks and a bright canned-peach-colored background (the apple cider version is a more muted background).
Thanks for the inspiration, DiDi. I'm so glad you asked for an apron!
I've put the main fabrics up for sale on Spoonflower, should you like some for yourself!
Closer to the deadline than ever before, my Apple Cider apron is finished! There's a slight flare to the skirt and a nice little ruffle. I used some gorgeous woven trim I found at the textile warehouse, some apple green quilting scraps, and most of what's finally left from the red block-printed Indian cotton I had. You can actually almost see the design in the fabric in some of these photos - they dye the cotton and then print the subtle floral design in a special clay using carved wooden blocks. The clay chemically reacts with the dye to bleach it slightly and then gets washed off. I absolutely love the effect and I wish it would show up better in my photos! I did play with the "developing" on the second shot below to try to bring out the pattern a bit. It dulled the colors in the trim, though. Oh, well.
If you like the shape of it, here's a diagram for the pattern (free for personal use; I'd love to see what you do with it! you can email pictures to whattherestimefor[at]gmail[dot]com):
For the ruffle, I traced an 11-inch dinner plate for the outside edge of the curve and measured inside it 2.5" all around for the inside edge. I cut out 6 half-rounds in both the red and the pale green, stitched each color together (it becomes a corkscrew) and then the colors to each other on the outside edge (right sides together, then fold open and press), then attached the unfinished inside edge (the shorter one) to the edge of the apron. There's a bit of bias trim sandwiched into the seam in mine.
The bib is nearly a rectangle. The finished dimensions (not including the straps) are 7" at the top edge, 6.5" at the bottom edge, and 9.5" tall.
The waistband and bib straps are about 2" wide, finished dimensions.
I stitched most seams with 1/4" seam allowance, but I think 1/2" to attach the ruffle to the skirt. It's obviously not fitted, so any seam allowance you're comfortable with should be fine!
You'll want to topstitch the outer edge of the ruffle and all the ruffle-related seam allowances to the inside of the apron skirt.
You might want to check out my tutorial on the easy way to turn your apron ties right side out! :)
Obviously, it snowed. :) Mr. TonsilsTheSizeOfHisFistPants went sledding with Mr. Right on Sunday, despite the tonsils thing. He even enjoyed himself. Still pretty sick, though.
It's grey and dark and my energy level is doing a good impression of one of those solar-power demonstration projects where the fountain pump barely gurgles if the sun goes behind a thick cloud.
So, instead of devoting myself to actually composing a solid blog post out of the wispy shreds of thoughts drifting through my hibernating mind (thoughts about screen-time and modern loneliness and the proper care of kitchen sponges and how Mr. LaughaMinutePants came home yesterday to tell me, "My best friend Anna says her favorite color is pink. Pink is my favorite color, too. Yeah," and about the many hypotheses I can come up with for how very few of Babble's Top 50 Mommy Blogs 2010 (50? really? isn't 50 a few too many for a list like that?) have actually charmed me enough to be added to my reader - I think my favorite so far is the very gorgeous Enjoying The Small Things and that was all the way down at number 40! And, hey, you know, if you don't read 50 other mommy blogs that you like better than mine, maybe you'd like to nominate What There's Time For for next year...)
...uh, so, instead of doing that, I hunted down a Geflügel shop and ordered us a fresh Pute for Thanksgiving and then took Shmoogie (who would have rather been asleep) to a soggy grey playdate at a fun little park I didn't know about before. She enjoyed the big doggie running around and loved her first five or six solo (slo-mo) trips down the slide and then LOST IT. I think because her hands got really cold. And she was tired.
Then we came home and she got to have a nap (her fingers finally warmed up by the time I put her down) and I changed the sheets and thought about vacuuming, but decided to telepathically request a Roomba for Christmas instead (yeah, I do realize I will have to vacuum at some point before Christmas... and also that it's really unlikely I'll be getting a Roomba) and now I'm going to go work on my apron for a very little while before we get Mr. LaughaMinutePants from school.
WHICH MADE ME THINK... do you know this awesome trick for making narrow fabric ties without going insane trying to turn them right side out after you've seamed them? The only extra thing you need is some cord (longer than your fabric tie is going to be). I use that soft cording from the notions department (it's intended to make piping for upholstery, etc), but you could get away with something else, too. The best part is, you can reuse it over and over again. The only other note is, cut your fabric strips a little long, since you'll be losing about a half inch off the end.
3. Stitch down the loooooong side of your fabric strip with the cord tucked inside, making sure to never catch the cord with your needle. You can use your fingers to keep the cord pushed up against the side of your presser foot and the fabric pulled reasonably taught around it - the raw edges of the fabric strip may not match perfectly, but the finished tie will be a consistent width. Or if you need a tie wider than your cord, make sure to match up the edges and measure your seam allowance like you normally would.
5. Now you can just pull it through, about a fist-length at a time. Easy!
Just as the short days are pressing in from all sides, it's Christmasing! I think it's weird that's a verb in German, but so it seems to be. It's Christmasing all over the place. Mr. CautiousPants even got a ride on a bizarre demented-Disney-knock-off carousel at last weekend's inaugural Christmas Market visit. I think the red lights were supposed to be Christmasing! but...
Anyway, I'm busy. And lots of what I'm busy with is surprises, so no blogging. :( I am fitting in some snatches of bloggable craftiness, although none of it completed. A new yard of my apple-cider fabric finally arrived, at the size I'd intended, and I love it (and it will come back to the blog, I promise), but I'd already gone off in a different direction for the apron challenge...
Souvenir buttons from our honeymoon have finally found a lovely home on my new fingerless mitts. I adore these buttons. I wish I'd gotten more of them. Paua shell. Abalone. Like the MOTHER of Mother of Pearl. If I ever get more, I'll add two more buttons to each cuff since I think they look a little sparse.
(Veyla, by Ysolda in KnitPicks Andean Treasure Lilac Heather, which looks to be discontinued, which is so sad for me since I don't think I'm quite going to finish the last mitten with what I have left... Must find some on Ravelry...)
Also, there will be no new Christmas stockings this year, but I did finish my double knitting swatch of one design which I adapted from A Child's Christmas in Wales...
What are you busy with?
Actually, I'd guess that anyone who actually can juggle could tell from this photo that I can't.
I can do geometry, though. I loved geometry in high school. Which is why I was so excited to find an apron "pattern" (it's in the Spring 2010 "stitch" magazine, but it's excerpted from the book Amy Barickman's Vintage Notions, where it appears as a reprint of a 1929 "Magic Pattern") that is really just instructions for plotting a whole bunch of points and drawing your own pattern right on your fabric. Plus, the apron ends up on the bias and I love bias.
WARNING! If you want to make this pattern (currently available for free) there's a MISTAKE in the instructions! The distance from point e to point f should be 4.5", NOT 6". (Also, I think I'll make the neck piece a little narrower if I use this pattern again, and maybe leave out the extra fabric for the pleat in the back.)
I made mine from two layers of quilting fabric because I didn't want to look at the ugly back of the fabric, but it's really too heavy that way. Or, it's a good weight for an apron, but too thick and stiff to get much benefit from being cut on the bias (which should in theory promote a nice, curvy fit with flowy drapeyness in the skirt).
I like how this print turned out on the bias, with the big dark pink circles forming a diamond pattern instead of square. The fabric I used for the bias binding was diagonal candy stripes on the bolt, so came out like bars after being cut on the bias. I let the tails of the bias tape make the ties instead of making ties from the apron fabric like the pattern said.
Oh, and another thing - the pattern says you can make this apron start to finish in less than an hour. I'm not going to say it couldn't be done, if you were really efficient and had some secret amazing way of applying ten feet of bias tape in no time flat (it goes without saying you wouldn't be making your own), but... let's just say it took me more than an hour!
The theme was "circus" and I had planned to put some obvious circus embellishments on it, but it was already so fun and getting a little busy that I decided to leave it plain. The circles make me think of circus tents viewed from the air and the color scheme might not yell "CIRCUS!" but makes me think of cotton candy, which was my favorite thing about the circus as a kid. :) Throwing three lemons in the air to fake a juggling photo is as close as I get to a circus trick!
This is our first routine Monday in at least seven weeks and it is going extremely well. Mr. Don'tWantToPants actually got out the door to school on time with a full bowl of oatmeal in his tummy and only a few tears. Shmoogie's done a lot of growing since our last routine Monday, thus she sat in her highchair happily with a Zwieback for most of the getting ready time and I didn't get sidelined for twenty minutes nursing her while Mr. Don'tWantToPants did whatever it is that he does when I'm not paying attention. Shmoogie napped, I cleaned, we picked up a happy (but still recognizable) version of Mr. Don'tWantToPants at school (who had eaten a lot of lunch, including vegetables!), Shmoogie had lunch and they both went to sleep.
I like normal! Especially this normal! Even if it only lasts one day... what a day!
Now I'm going to grab the last few quiet moments to stitch bias tape (made yesterday with my new bias tape maker, ooooo!) around the edges of my new apron. I asked Mr. Right last night what he thinks of aprons and, after a considering silence (he must have sensed there were depths to this question he might not fully understand), he said, "Well, it's kind of an unusual hobby, but there are worse ones to have."
I forgot to tell you the most HILARIOUS thing that happened just before DH went back to Austria. DiDi had taken Mr. NoPants to the potty to pee and when a good portion of the pee went on the floor instead of in the potty, he chortled to DiDi, "That was funny, wasn't it?" And DiDi, saint that she is, will accept an accident, but didn't care for the glee, so DH stepped in and dropped a towel on the floor and told Mr. NoPants that he had to wipe up the peepee before he could come out. Which resulted in tears. Which resolved eventually to acceptance as he started to half-heartedly nudge the towel around on the floor, wailing the whole time, "THIS IS SO HAAARD!!! THIS IS SOOOOO HAAARD!!!!" Which had me and DH trying soooo haaaard not to burst out laughing right outside the door.
I also forgot to tell you that the Alice in Wonderland aprons are all up on the web and they are a lovely bunch, if you have a few minutes to go browse them!
I had a marvelous no-child time at an awesome little quilting shop with DiDi this weekend and now I have several hunks of delicious fabric, including these two prints which are meant to become a circus-themed apron by the end of next month, ha!
I had another marvelous no-child time at a knitting class the next day (again, thank you DiDi and PaPa!) where, in less than two and a half hours, I created a delightful mini-mitten! When I signed up for the class it was mostly because I know I have fun at knitting classes (and DiDi offered babysitting!) and I always learn a bunch of useful tricks for various things from the wonderful instructor (at Uniquities, for locals who might want to try out a class), but it really wasn't because I wanted to knit mittens. Now, I am obsessed with mittens. They are adorable. And fast. And where can you get real wool mittens for kids??? Mr. NoPants needs some for the winter (along with some snowpants, but I can't knit those). Maybe I'll be ambitious and do two-layer mittens with super-felty wool on the outside for moisture-resistance and alpaca or Australian possum or qiviut on the inside for extra warmth. :)