I have to say baby rompers might be my favorite item of baby clothing. They are comfy, easy to slip on, and are so. darn. cute.
Yesterday, I made a white bonnet for Vintage May and today I am going to share the romper that was pictured with the bonnet.
It’s a sun bather style romper that has a bloomer cut on the bottom. My husband scrunched his face at it and asked if I just made a baggy swim suit. Well…yes, sort of. :)
The top is smocked with elastic shirring and the legs are cinched with elastic casings.
Let’s make one shall we?
3/4 yard of fabric (any cotton, linen, etc. should do…I used quilter’s cotton)
3/4 yard of 1/4 inch wide elastic
*The measurements in this tutorial are for a size 12-18 month romper.
- Fold your fabric in half selvage to selvage. Your fabric should be about 42-45 inches wide. Mine was 42 ish (after washing and drying). *You want to fold it selvage to selvage so that the cross wise grain (more stretchy direction) extends from left to right. If you flip it and use the cross wise grain from top to bottom, it may sag and hang incorrectly.
- Using an existing baby body suit, determine how long you need your romper to be. I made mine 18 inches long.
- Cut your fabric into a long rectangle. My finished cut was 42 inches x 18 inches.
-Now cut that that rectangle in half so you have two pieces, each 21 inches by 18 inches.
- Fold those pieces in half short end to short end.
- Using a body suit, mimic the shape of the bottom of the body suit, but exaggerated so that you have space for the elastic to gather and cinch the legs. Also, add an inch from the bottom the body suit so that you can fold it under to make the casing. The front piece will be more curved than the back piece. Be sure the bottoms (the crotch) are the same width. (I realize that I should have made the crotch about 1.5 inches narrower, but that’s the beauty of a tutorial…you can learn from my mistakes! :))
- Finish the edges of the legs with a serger or a zig zag stitch. Iron it under 1/2 an inch.
- Line up the front and back pieces, right sides together, pin up the sides (unfold the part you ironed under for now) and sew with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
- Next, you want to finish the top of the romper. Fold it under 1/4 of an inch – twice. Iron it in place (so you won’t have to pin it down and to keep it even). Sew around the top.
Now it’s time to get shirring!
I hate messing with the tension on my drop-in bobbin, so I have an old basic Kenmore machine that I got when I first started sewing when Reid was a baby ($25…really basic). It can’t do much very well, except for shirr! So, I keep it just for that.
If you have a drop in bobbin and want to shirr, Grosgrain has a great tutorial on that HERE.
Hhere are my tips for shirring with a bobbin like the one you see above:
- Hand wind the elastic onto your bobbin. You want a consistent tension that is not tight but not completely loose either.
- Only wind it about 2/3 full. If you fill it completely up, it might not work.
- Lengthen your stitch significantly (I max out my stitch length).
- Always do a test swatch. I never can remember just how tight I need to wind my bobbin, since it’s kind of a fussy process. So, I wind it and test it first. Once I get it how I like it, then I proceed.
*My tips may or may not help you depending on your machine. Be sure to test it on a scrap of fabric until you get it just right.
**Also, be mindful that you will have to re-wind your bobbin several times.
This step is optional but, I like back stitch and then pull long (ish) tails off after each row and knot the elastic ends together. This ensures that the elastic thread never comes loose. It might never come loose if you back stitch at the beginning and end, but it’s just my preference to do it this way.
Sew about 10 rows. It will look smocked but probably not quite tight enough.
Which brings us to the next step with is SUPER fun. :) Like pulling off a freezer paper stencil kind of fun. Heat up your iron and put it on full steam. Press (don’t push back and forth) your iron over the shirred lines and…magic!
Watch the elastic pull together and smock your romper beautifully. :)
Next, it’s time to finish the bottom of your romper.
Sew the casing in place (this where the previous pressing prep helps out). Measure the length of elastic you’ll need by using the existing body suit as a reference. I used 11 inches per leg. Once you thread it through, sew a line of stitching at each end to hold it in place.
Now, you have a choice. You can sew the bottom of the romper, right sides together. This is the simplest sewing option but would mean that you would have to pull the romper all the way off and on when diapering.
If you want to be able to open the bottom, add snap tape. You can pick this up by the yard in the notions section of most fabric stores.
Simply pin and sew into place. Make sure you sew the snap tape in such a way so that the back comes up to the snap over the front.
This means that one line of snap tape will be on the outside of the front piece and the other line of snap tape will be on the inside of the back piece.
Phew…we are almost there. Are you ready for straps?
The simplest option would be to sew on ribbon. You can also cut 1 1/2 inch strips of fabric (the picture shows 2 inch strips but I cut it down afterward) and make fabric straps.
Fold the raw edges inward and then fold it in half. Press it with a hot iron (pretty much how bias tape is made but the fabric doesn’t need to be cut on the bias). Sew the strips and knot the ends. You need four of these straps, each strap at least a foot long. I usually make them much longer than that and then cut them down as needed.
To add the straps tie two pieces together into a bow. Pin them in place.
I like to space them about 5 inches apart in the front and the about 2-3 inches apart in the back. This ensures the straps will stay on the shoulders better.
Bar tack the straps in place. Or in other words. Sew a dense zig zag stich over each strap. Trim excess strap length as needed. Add a tag if desired…
And you are D.O.N.E.! Wahoo!
Pair it with a bonnet and some summer sandals…
(I just bought Natalie her first pair of Saltwaters. Love them! I have a feeling a new pair of Saltwaters will be a yearly Spring tradition.)
…and you’re baby is adorably set for a warm day outside.
Natalie was obsessed with stomping ants during the whole photoshoot. She kept pointing them out to me, and then squealing as she danced and stomped all over them. haha. I love how cute this age is.
Even though Natalie is 14 months (can’t believe it!) she is very petite. So, there is a lot of room to grow into this romper all summer long. Her shoes too. She is still a size 2! The smallest size Saltwaters come in, are size 3.
Don’t let her size fool you though. She is a pint size firecracker with a large, crazy, fun personality.
Fabric source: Honey Honey – Garden – Sunset by: Kate Spain from Southern Fabric. See listing HERE.
Hope you are having a beautiful day!