/ Li'l Jumper by the Dozen by Homestead Specialties
A girls jumper that can be worn 12 ways
A jumper your little girl will love
Cheryl Weiderspahn has designed patterns for multiple uses and multiple needs and sells them through her Homestead Specialties site. For instance, this jumper can be donned without pulling anything over the head, if made according to the pattern. If you have a special needs child who must be dressed by others, this can be a a very innovative jumper. Also, the jumper is designed to be "worn 12 ways", which means there are two different straps to interchange on top, the design is made to be able to be worn button up the back or front, and the waist tie tied in back or front. Combinations there of make the 12 ways. The pattern includes a matching pattern for a doll dress. The pattern is also available in women's sizes.
I approached Cheryl about reviewing her patterns, because they can be used in a modest clothing wardrobe, and the design looked particularly attractive. My daughter was immediately enthusiastic about the Li'l Jumper by the Dozen pattern, with the echoing border on the bodice pocket. I read through the instructions briefly, and then headed off to the fabric store with said size 10 daughter in tow.
Instructions a bit different from standard patterns...
Cheryl sells a seam binding maker gadget on her site. Definitely get one if you plan on using her patterns. I played the old singe the fingers on the iron game and very quickly decided that I'd made a big mistake not buying matching satin seam binding tape for the project. I would much rather have purchased seam binding tape than make my own. I'm just not that picky about color and fabric matching vs. how painful it was to make my own seam binding tape. Add to that the fact that the waist tie and narrow shoulder strap patterns pieces were not included in the pattern, and I had my work cut out for me. I don't even have a cutting board currently (live in a remote rural area where the fabric store owner isn't even sure where she can get one), so a lack of pattern pieces is particularly difficult for me. I also tend to not be great with straight lines, ahem. That's why I use patterns, because I'm not good at making my own. The skirt border pieces were also not included (2-1/2 inches by the width of each skirt panel).
Making homemade seam binding tape.
I cut out the pieces in two fabrics as per instructions, cut out my woven iron-on interfacing pieces. Well, almost according to instructions. You see, the skirt pieces are presented with only an upper "guide" for front and back, and you have to fill in the rest of the rectangle. I was a tad daunted at how many straight lines that meant, and decided after a brief review of the instructions that I was skipping the back center buttoned seam and putting the back skirt piece on the fold of the fabric as well. The instructions at the end mention that the jumper is sized large enough to go over the head without unbuttoning, so you can just choose to sew the buttons through all layers rather than make buttonholes. I opted for only buttons in the bodice. Here also, I realize that commercial patterns come with separate pieces for the interfacing. Since Cheryl's patterns are on high quality paper, I copied pattern pieces to parchment paper and made my own "interfacing pattern piece".
This is the back bodice with interfacing. The instructions for sewing the side seams with waist ties say "Sew side seams, inserting waist ties where indicated. Backstitch over ties for added strength." I decided to baste the waist ties to the marked spot on the right side of the fabric before stitching the seam. This ensured that my waist ties didn't run away as I sewed the side seam.
Making the seam bias tape for the arm holes went okay (besides the singed fingers and worn nerves). The language of the instructions was a bit different than what I was used to. "Seam bias strips together diagonally...". Generally, patterns don't use seam as a verb, usually it's "sew together", or "stitch together at seam", and so forth. Not a big deal, but my patience with seam binding tape was wearing thin.
Again, for the front bodice border, I basted the loops for straps where indicated before stitching the side and top seams of the border. The instructions don't say to do that, but I didn't want my loops moving around when I sewed the seam. Be very careful on the side seams of the bodice border not to catch the strap loops.
Here are some pictures of how I basted the loops into the back bodice border before sewing the borders themselves. The construction technique is a bit of a challenge. Instead of just having a piece of contrasting fabric which is top stitched into place, the borders are interfaced inverted "pockets" that you then attach to the main body of the garment. As you can see, sometimes I didn't get the edges lined up exactly with the edges of the garment, leading to a bit of border edge.
With the bodice pocket, Cheryl gives a trick for getting the pocket perfectly round. However, not being very artistic, I wasn't really sure how to make a cardboard piece exactly the final shape of the pocket. My pocket is a little odd at the edge here and there, though my daughter loves it. Oh, she mentioned that no matter how small the object she puts in it, it "puffs out".
Finally, we're nearing the end of the bodice construction. The instructions for the wide strap (the one pictured in the photos here) say "Add buttons and buttonholes at markings on both ends of straps." Well, there are only markings on one end of the strap. After a moment of confusion about how the strap worked, I realized that the instructions do say both ends, even though only one side is marked. I skipped the narrow straps for now. Frankly, another bias tape by hand is just not my idea of fun. Guess I need to buy that bias tape maker on HomesteadSpecialties.com!
Skirt and Assembly
Skirt assembly went smoothly, though I think that if I had saved the pressing the pleats until after stitching to bodice, I would have pressed straighter. Again, I skipped the button back and opted for centering both skirt pieces on the fold. The skirt border is pressed 1/2 inch on both edges and then sewn on to the hemmed skirt.
All in all, the pattern is not for beginners, in my opinion. I have been sewing for about 30 years, though with my own limits in creativity and professionalism. I found the instructions and techniques a bit challenging, difficult in places, though the final product is definitely a beauty. If you have special needs, such as dressing a child without putting clothes over the head, or you want a garment that is very, very flexible for wearing in different ways, then the challenges are probably well worth the effort.
You can purchase Cheryl Weiderspahn's patterns, including this Li'l Jumper by the Dozen at HomeStead Specialties