November 23, 2013

Frilly Butterfly Tee-Tutorial

How to turn a plain boring t-shirt into something that is bound to put a smile on any little girl's face.

Emily is always a sucker for a butterfly. The other day she collected rose petals in a Tupperware container and added a small cup of water with honey mixed in. She thought it would make the perfect home for a pet butterfly. She stood by the few flowers we have growing in our backyard in the hope of catching one. She said that butterflies like eating the 'connectar' in flowers and was standing there hoping one would come to dine. She stood there in the sun for a long time but sadly no butterflies came. I suggested a lady bug who had hitched a ride on my washing basket out to the clothesline might be a good alternative. But it only brought tears and disappointment.
So the next day, when we'd put the Georginator down for her nap and the Tupperware container was still hopeful with rose petals I suggested that maybe we could make a butterfly t-shirt instead. It seemed a good compromise and settled the disappointment of the butterfly that never came.

Start with some plain t-shirts and some colours which look like they love each other's company. You'll also need some vlisoflix and a thin hair elastic for each t-shirt.
First you need to draw yourself half a butterfly on a folded piece of paper. Cut it out and see how she looks.
If you're not happy with the shape, try it again until you get something you like.
Cut the wings off and now you have your pattern pieces.
Before you start on the butterfly, you need to do your butterfly antennas, which is why you need a hair elastic. 
 Cut the hair elastic in 2 equal pieces and tie knots in one end of each piece. Now you have your antennas.

Now you need to do the body of the butterfly. Iron a piece of vlisoflix onto the back of the fabric you are using and then trace the butterfly body onto it.

Yes, those were the little helper's hands.

Then cut it out.
*Note*- for the rest of this tutorial I have used the photos with an orange-bodied butterfly. My apologies if it is confusing.

Position your antennas onto the t-shirt and then iron the butterfly's body on top.

Put a piece of iron-on light weight interfacing under the front of the t-shirt. This will make it much easier to stitch onto.

Then zig-zag around the edge of the butterfly body. Use a small stitch length and a medium stitch width.

Take your fabric for the wings and cut some 1/2inch strips on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric).

Then stitch the strips together at right angles.

Snip off the ends and press the seam open. You need about 1 metre length of bias strip, give or take.

Next, stitch along one side of the bias strip, a little in from the edge. You are going to gather the strip. Use the longest stitch length and the highest thread tension possible and pull on your thread a little as you sew (or you can do it the proper way as explained here but that takes a lot longer). You'll know if you're pulling too hard because your thread will snap :) and if you want more ruffle than you've got then you're not pulling hard enough.
Your strip should gather up like this:

Now trace the butterfly wings either side of the butterfly body.

Then take your ruffle strip, turn the end under and stitch it down parallel to the butterfly body.

When you have stitched it down, leave the needle in the fabric and turn the t-shirt so that your presser foot will be parallel with the butterfly wings.

Stitch about a quarter of an inch in from the gathered side, following the guide of the traced butterfly wing.

When you get to the end, snip the ruffle and tuck the end under. Then stitch down parallel to the body as you did when you began.

Repeat for the second wing, beginning at the bottom.

And there it is. Leave it like this or add as many extra layers as you want to.

Stitch each extra layer a quarter of an inch in from the one before it.

Result: One appeased would-be butterfly pet owner and one happy little side kick.

Perfect for tea-parties.


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