13 September 2011

Avalanche Tutorial

Thank you all for welcoming this sweet baby into the world!  Both Ryan and I were touched by the amount of people who have taken the time to email or comment.  He is still nameless.  We're working on it.  Don't worry, this is normal for us.  Also, I'm working on writing down his birth story.  HIS!  Still can't get over saying that.  And changing his diaper.

I will be bringing home my guest post tutorials over the course of bringing home my baby, starting with my Project Run & Play tutorials.  You know, a little something to keep you busy ;).  


Don't be intimidated by the mounds of fabric on this skirt.  It is a basic gathered skirt with a twist on the bustle.  In fact, it is similar to my Ruffle Your Bustle Tutorial with a few changes.

Let's start with the fabric I used.  This is actually a blanket from IKEA.  If you don't live near an IKEA, perhaps you have a nice relative who does?  It is the OFELIA BLANKET made of 80% polyester and 20% acrylic [it is not the OFELIA throw, which has wool in the fiber content, so check, if you're uncertain].  It is stretchy, but forgiving, because it hides mistakes really well ;).  

For the front of the skirt I used a FLANNEL BACKED SATIN, a yard and 1/3 should do it, depending on the size you're making.  If you have never used flannel backed satin, you are in for a treat.  It makes wonderful pajama bottoms, as you still get that slickslideinyourbed feel on the outside, but the cozybyafireplace feel on the inside.  It's also not as fussy as regular satin.
For the back panel base, I just used some polyester lining, but on the thick side, as it will be holding a lot of weight.  A mid-weight cotton would also work fine.
This shows the back panel, folded in half.  For a size 6 and bigger, use a width of 32".  Any bigger and you'll have to buy more than one blanket.  Adjust the width and length according to your child, including seam allowance of 1/2" on each side plus 1" for the waist.  Round the two bottom corners and open it up.

Next cut the layers of the bustle.  Each layer is folded in half, hotdog bun style, so cut them accordingly [for example, each of my layers is about 2" longer than the previous one, so layer one is cut 10", layer two is cut 14", etc.]  The last layer is significantly larger.  Pin each layer across, slightly slanting them on each end to match the curve of the base fabric.  Sew, starting from the bottom [narrowest] layer, flipping the other ones out of the way as you sew.
Next comes the scalloped edges of each layer.  I experimented many different ways and found it was easiest to do this by hand.
o1  Using a double stranded thread or a single thicker thread, tie a knot and loop around the folded portion of the layer [obviously, though, you'll use a matching color thread.]
o2   As long as your needle is, weave it back and forth, perpendicular with the fold.
o3  Continue until you reach where you've sewn the layer onto the base.
o4  Pull thread to create the scalloped edge and secure with a knot.

I did the most amount of scallops on the bottom layer and did increasingly less the closer I got to the waistband.  Make sure you also gather each end of the layers.

 Next comes the gathering.  I also tried several methods and found the best was to gather it with a cord.  If you've never used this method, don't be afraid ;).  What you need is a foot with a groove on the bottom.  This one is my baby pin tuck foot, but a lot of invisible zipper feet have grooves as well.  The cord is nylon which makes it easier to gather, as it slips easily through the thread, and can be found by the piping in fabric stores.  It doesn't really matter what size you use, as long as it slips under and is guided by your presser foot.
All you do is feed the cord through the groove of your foot and zig zag stitch back and forth over it.  Just be careful not to stitch through it or you won't be able to gather the fabric.  Leave a few inches on either side of cord.  Once you zig zag across the entire top of the bustle panel, tie a knot on one end of the cord and push the fabric as much as you can to gather it and tie a knot at the other end.  Leave the cord ends hanging out [we all like a little time to hang out, right?], as you will sew them in the side seams for extra stability later.

I used about 1 1/3 yards for the remainder of the skirt.  Fold the top down 1/4" and press.  Fold it down again 1" and press and stitch along the first fold.  This creates a casing for the elastic.  Insert 3/4" wide elastic using a large safety pin attached to one side and gather the front panel.  Pin to the bustle and try on your child for fit. 
Next pin and sew the 2 side seams, making sure you catch each layer of the bustle, the cord you used to gather the bustle, and the elastic--everyone wants in on this one.  Hem by folding under twice and stitching.  And there you have your very own Avalanche Skirt!  If you have any further questions or need clarification, don't hesitate to contact me over at my blog.
 ...girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes...
Does it make you want to watch The Sound of Music? ;)


  1. Katy! i'm dying over here waiting on that name:O) thanks for the tutorial to ease the suspense!

  2. I want to know his name so badly, haha. Whatever it is I know it will be just lovely, and I love the avalanche skirt. So sophisticated and beautiful!

  3. Remember to point it down when you change the diaper. Here ends my useful advice on baby boys...

  4. Keep the top edge of the diaper folded in. That is how I kept my boys' diapers from leaking.

  5. Ha, we were always warned to keep a close on the pee factor, but our first born (a son) somehow managed to literally shoot poop all the way across the room, it hit the wall in the middle of the night. We were so intent on the penis, we forgot the other end! So, beware of both. And congratulations again.

  6. are you taking name suggestions?
    how about Sage or Reed?

  7. #1 That dress is out of this world beautiful

    #2 leahinlondon's advice is the best by far! I have 2 boys and I went through 20 pajamas in one week, with my first, before someone told me that!

    #3 Congratulations again :)

  8. I remember feeling that way with my baby boy, and I just have two girls ahead of him. I still call him her sometimes even though he is a year old. :)

  9. I know that probably wasn't an invitation for name suggestions and but I seriously thought you were hinting that you'd named him "Sun" and I thought it was completely charming! Good luck, and congratulations! You have a beautiful family!

  10. I have to say that boy diapers are WAY easier than girls. It's nice when everything is on the outside. And I'm with Mrs. J, I thought his name was Sun and I LOVED it!! Can't wait to hear what you decide :).

  11. I just recently found your blog and totally fell in love with your family, your energy and your pictures. And now it turns out you make wonderful tutorials as well!!
    All the best in the world to your family, enjoy your 'sun' and all of your girls; I'll pass by more often!
    Greetings from the Netherlands, Amsterdam.

  12. I've asked our community to help brainstorm names for your little guy! Hope this helps:


    ~Elisabeth, You Can't Call It "It"!

  13. Like everyone else, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for a name. I particularily like the name Asher ... meaning "blessed"

  14. Having had a girl first, it was always a surprise when opening the nappy of my son...somehow I expected him to look like his sister down there. Weird! (NB mum-of-son tip - always make sure his little thing is pointing down when you're about to do his nappy up. That way he doesn't pee and it go all over a very surprised baby!).
    Anyway, love the dress...it's very pretty. Dawn x

  15. I really thought Sun was his name and loved it. Now I am in suspense at what his name is. Please post soon : )


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