Here you go my dear, directions for making your own fairy romper or regular romper! This tutorial was certainly a labor of love but I’m hoping lots of little “tinks” out there will benefit from it. Also I’m throwing up a listing in my Etsy shop for a custom fairy outfit if anyone would like to have one but doesn’t sew…you can find it here.
Option #1, with the fairy skirt modeled by Tinkerbell a la Samster…
Option #2 – leave off the skirt & you have a super comfy play romper…You’ll need a sewing machine, elastic thread & one adult tee for the romper plus one more tee if you’re making the fairy skirt. That’s it!
First things first, you’ll need to take some measurements of your munchkin to determine what size to cut out from the shirt. Measure from where you want the top to start all the way down to the mid-thigh area. (longer or shorter depending on your preference, for the fairy one I wanted the legs to be short & hidden under the skirt, the romper, a bit longer) For a size 24mths this ended up being 17″. I then added 1″ for seam allowance. This will be the length of your piece.
To determine the width roughly measure the width of the front half across the chest & then double it, the puckering will give you plenty of wiggle room but usually I estimate that pre-smocking the width should be double the desired end width. Make sense? So cut out twice the width you want it to end up.
With the fairy romper I used an adult women’s XL and the width was perfect as is, I only had to cut the 17″ length. For the pink one however it was a men’s XXL so it was huge, I cut out a square, using the bottom finished hem of the shirt, to my desired length & width measurements. Oh! Also in addition to using the bottom hem you’ll want to keep one of the side seams of the shirt, this way when you open up the square it’s one big rectangle. The pics below should help…Next it’s time for smocking. Across the top use a water soluble marker to mark your line, start with one line that’s 1/2″ from the top of the rectangle.Next you can either go ahead and use the ruler & pen to mark out all of your smocking lines (there are 12 total, spaced 1/2″ apart) or you can do it my “time efficient” way & just use the first line as a guide for the next lines, most sewing machines have 1/4″ spacings marked next to the needle, between this & the previous measured line I think it’s enough to do the rest of your lines without marking them first.To begin the actual smocking you’ll want to use regular thread on the top & elastic thread in your bobbin. Don’t be intimidated by elastic thread, it’s really easy & you’ll love it once you try it. Promise! Hand wind the bobbin loosely, below is what it looks like on the roll & then once on the bobbin.
Stitch your lines using a medium/large length stitch. Also I’ve heard a lot of people say that you shouldn’t stitch back & forth at the beginning & end of each line to lock them in place, I disagree with this & always give a quick reverse then back forward at the beginning & end of each line. With elastic thread if one stitch breaks the whole thing will come unraveled once stretched, it’s big fat pain in the butt. If each line is secured then at least your other ones would be preserved. To that’s my reasoning & so far I haven’t had any problems with it. Also when you reach the end of a line don’t cut your threads, lock them in place with a quick backstitch, then give them a little pull, turn the fabric & keep sewing down the next line. (click on any pic to enlarge it)
After you’ve finished all 12 lines of smocking (feel free to do more or less to change the bodice size/style) it’s time to shrink them up…my favorite part. There’s something very therapeutic about steaming up all those little stitches. Or I’m just a bit odd. Perhaps both.
Spritz your smocked area with some water then using an iron on a hot steam setting iron your piece. You’ll see the elastic thread shrinks right up! Also the water spritz makes the ink lines disappear. Do this a few times.Next fold your piece in half, right sides together & stitch down the long side to form a tube. Actually if you stopped here you’d have a cute smocked dress.Now we’ll make the crotch. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
With your piece turned inside out you’ll want to mark a small arc on the bottom center. (The back center is going to be the seam line you made from joining the rectangle into a tube) The arc should only be a couple of inches high & about twice that long. (Mine was about 2″ x 4″) Pin along the outside of the arc to keep the two pieces together while you cut out the arc. Stitch this seam together (with pieces still right sides facing) to finish the crotch. Turn it right side out and it should look something like this…You can either leave the shorts loose like this or I used my elastic bobbin thread to smock the bottoms. Just follow along the two finished hem lines of the tee, steam & wah-lah. Poofy bloomers!Now let’s talk straps for a minute, really the sky is the limit but here are the two ways I made them. For the pink romper I cut out 1″ strips that were the width of the shirt. Then I braided them and stitched them onto the top of the romper.I love the way the green fairy straps turned out, they were also 1″ wide strips from the tshirt but this time I folded them in half lengthwise & serged (rolled hem setting) down the long side twice. I did it twice just for decorative purposes because I liked the way all the green thread looked. (I used two different colored green threads) You could also do this with a zig-zag stitch if you don’t have a serger. I knotted each of the four straps at one end & double stitched the other end to the top of the romper. (You can see the two attached stitch lines at the bottom of the pic)If you’re just making the romper then congrats, you’re done! For the fairy skirt you’ll need to do one more step. From your extra shirt cut out the petal design below that is twice the width of the smocked portion of your romper & the length of the bottom of your smocking to the bottom of the shorts portion. (also you’re cutting through BOTH layers of the shirt, that way it’s a tube)I was able to use the existing side seams from my shirt but if your shirt was too big then turn sew these side seams with the pieces right sides together.
Next you’re going to sew a line, 1/2″ down from the top, of elastic thread across the top of the skirt. Use steam to shrink it up.I attached mine to the romper by simply lining up the skirt underneath the last line of smocking on the romper, pinning all around & then stitching in place. (I went around twice)YAY!! We’re done!!! Whew, that was a long one! Please let me know if you make this, I’d love to put up a photo gallery post of all the little fairies!