Vintage curtains have some of the cutest patterns and can be found aplenty at your neighborhood thrift store--or in your grandma's kitchen if she's so kind as to share! We found an awesome vintage valance curtain (already hemmed on top and bottom, and the casing is already in place--BONUS!) to make a cute kid's spring top! (As with everything thrifted, make sure to give it a good wash first!)
This tutorial is fitted to one of our favorite rock star kids, Claire. (Our photogenic little friend is also featured in her mom's new book The Toddler Cafe: Fast, Healthy, and Fun Ways to Feed Even the Pickiest Eater by Jennifer Carden--totally worth a read if you like to cook and have fun with your kids!) If you don't find a vintage valance you like, you can always hem a regular curtain and add a casing. (Those skills are described in Subversive Seamster, but for now, we are sticking with the super easy basics!)
Step 1: Getting Started
Time to make: less than 1 hour
Level of difficulty: Seamster level 2 + (i.e., you are comfortable using a sewing machine)
Start Item: Cute vintage valance
Start Category: Household
Finish Item: Kids top
Finish Category: Kids Clothes
Refashioned or From Scratch: Refashioned
Tools You'll Need:
- Vintage curtain valance (the kind with a casing that goes on a rod--not a tabbed curtain), ours was 120" x 13" (plenty of material for lots of tops!)
- 22" of 1" wide pajama elastic (chest measurement minus one inch)--the width of the pajama elastic should be at least 0.5 inch smaller than the width of your casing
- 1 yard double fold bias tape (or ribbon) for the straps
- Sewing Machine
- Safety Pins/ Pins
Step 2: Spring Cleaning
We wanted our top to fit our lovely model who is 23" around, and 11"Â long from the base of her neck to her waist (plus we added an extra two inches for coverage). Luckily, the valance was just the right length, so no hemming necessary! Sweet! If you do need to shorten the curtain and hem your new edges, now's the time to do it!
We cut a length of valance/future top to 46"Â, which is double the length of the desired circumference. We will use this extra length to gather the top. (You can do a little more or a little less, depending on how full you want your top.)
Step 3: Casing the Joint
Pin one end of your pajama elastic with a safety pin and use its bulkiness to thread the elastic through the preexisting curtain rod casing (we use pajama elastic because it's wider and more secure than regular elastic). Carefully bunch the casing up along the elastic as you go. Once you've got the whole length of elastic fed through, fold the entire top in half, party side facing party side. Pin the elastic together right outside the end of the casing (about 0.5 inch should be sticking out) and sew down the entire length of the top, using a 0.5 inch seam allowance with a short, straight stitch.
A close up of how to stitch it is below...stitch it good (ahh, stitch it)!
Trim off the extra elastic and turn the top right side out, with the seam in the back and even out the gathering. It should look like the second photo below.
Step 4: Shoulder to Shoulder
We chose double fold bias tape for our shoulder straps, but you could get creative and use ribbons or strips of fabric. Dealer's choice! To fit Claire, we cut four 8-inch pieces of double fold bias tape, so she could tie the adjustable straps into bows on her shoulder. Cute!
With the seam in the back, have your lovely little friend try the dress on (or if she isn't there, make your best guess--with all the gathering the fit is actually quite forgiving--and pin the straps on the front and back of the top, about a quarter of the way from either side (two pieces for each shoulder). Stitch them into place.
Step 5: Sew Close
You are almost there! This step is optional, but adds to the fun! We took a scrap of fabric and made a simple patch pocket by folding and ironing the rough edges down on three sides, binding the top edge with the last of the bias tape, and stitching it on to the dress. While not (wo)mandatory, the patch pocket added a little bit of flair--and a place for Claire to keep her treasures when she is out on an adventure!
Step 6: Finish It Up!
All done in record time! Tie the bows on the shoulders and your friend is ready for an adventure in her good lookin' curtain top!
Do it your way! If being made for a younger child, valances can make great dresses too! Get creative!
PS. You can check out more tips and projects for toddlers at the Toddler Cafe blog: http://www.thetoddlercafe.blogspot.com/