I have grown accustomed to pushing the grocery cart bent nearly in half. I do this because, nine times out of ten, I'm wearing a cardigan and one child or another is sitting in the cart busily buttoning and unbuttoning my sweater. They are so constantly at work and at play.
I've yearned for a set of dressing frames for a long while and decided it was high time to make a set. These will be going to my girls for Christmas (shhh, don't tell) and while I expect I'll still spend my shopping trips with little fingers tugging at my sweater, I'm hoping those busy fingers will spend some time with these as well.
Normally, each fastener set would have its own wood frame, but that ends up taking up a whole lot of room. Instead, I built two wood frames (one for each girl) and made the fabric sets removable so you can attach whichever one you want to work on. Here are all the different frames up close.
snaps and a closed bottom zipper
small and large buttons
lacing and an open bottom separating zipper
backpack buckles, overall clasp and D-rings
And should you fancy making a set, here is how you do it!Building the Frames
You'll need: a 1" square wood pole, a 5/8" dowel, wood glue, small screws, a power drill with a 5/8" bit, sand paper, masking tape and a saw.
Cut your wood piece and dowel down into four pieces of each. You can determine the size you want your frame to be. I made my wood square pieces 10" long and my dowel pieces 12" long. Sand down rough edges.
Using a 5/8" drill bit, drill a hole in each end of all four square pieces. I drilled down until the spike from the drill bit just poked through to the other side of the wood. That gave me an opening for my screw to fit into eventually.
Slide one dowel into one of the newly drilled holes. Mark how far the dowel fits in with a pencil line.
Use that measurement to mark off the same length on a small drill bit (choose one that compliments your screws) with a piece of masking tape. Drill into both ends of each dowel, going only so far as the masking tape.
Begin drilling the screws into the square pieces from the outside through the hole made by the 5/8" bit spike. Apply some wood glue to the inside of the large dowel hole and insert your dowel, screwing it into place from the other side.
Repeat until you've done all four connections and you have a rectangle with square top and bottom and round dowel sides. Let the frames dry completely. If you find a frame is a bit wobbily or askew you can tie string around as needed to secure the frame and hold it in shape while it dries. My final frames measure 10" x 13".
I used a lightweight and a heavyweight denim for this project. You want something sturdier than just cotton woven as they will enjoy a lot of tugging and pulling.
1. Cut fabric. Each frame gets two pieces and for my 10" x 13" frames I cut two 11" x 12" pieces for each frame. I found it helpful to trim my edges with pinking shears as my denim was a bit unravely.
2. Hem the top and bottom of each fabric piece. To do this, lay one piece of fabric over the dowel edge of a frame (the 12" side running up and down). Mark where the hem should be at the bottom and the top so the fabric will wrap around the dowel. Hem with a doubled folded hem to encase the raw edge. I then taped this one to my ironing board and used this one piece to iron the hems on all the other pieces.
3. Attach the center fasteners. Here are some details of how I did each one:
Buttons: Sew a small hem (twice tucked under to encase the raw edge) on one unfinished side of both fabric pieces. Mark buttonholes evenly along the edge of one and sew. Mark button placement from your button holes (lining up the top and bottom edges of the fabrics evenly) and sew buttons in place.
Snaps: Repeat the same procedure as for the button, but instead of a thin hem, make your hem wide enough so that the snaps are attached through the layers of the hem. This will stabilize the snaps as they are pulled at. I used my snap press, but you could easily use sew on snaps.
Zippers: Cut your two raw edges with pinking shears and fold back a single hem. Lay the two folded edges right side up along the zipper teeth making sure to align the tops and bottoms and fold under any extra pieces of the zipper tape or extra zipper length. Pin and sew with a zipper foot. The closed bottom zipper can be shortened at the bottom by sewing across its base and trimming away extra zipper (see the photo above) and the separating zipper can be shortened at the top by folding back the zipper teeth behind the fabric and sewing over them and then trimming the extra off.
Buckles and D-rings: Fold over double hems at the raw edges. Cut loops of ribbon for the D-rings or webbing for the buckles. Mine were three and four inches long respectively, but you'll need to play around to figure out the right length for yours depending on your hem width. Thread them through the ring or buckles and sew across the cut ends to secure the loops. For the overall clasp, just sew a loops, you'll attach the button portion to this later. Lay the loop ends within the hems on the wrong side. Flip them up over the hem (see right) as you are sewing down the hem (or you could pin them). I sewed two hems, one at each side of the hem to secure the loops well. Repeat for the other edge for the buckle and just use a length of ribbon for the D-rings. Attach the overall clasp's button as directed on the packaging.
Laces: Iron under a double hem on both raw edges. I used leather cord so I didn't have to deal with fraying and it is pretty stiff for lacing, but you could use a shoelace here too. Open the hem and sew a length of cording to the innermost hem (left photo). Repeat for both sides. You need to be sure you are sewing the cords to the ends of each piece so that when they are lined up to go on the board they are both either coming out of the bottom edge or out from the top edge, but not one top, one bottom. Fold hem over and sew across base where the cord lies and up the hem. I used grommets and a hand tool to apply them. I nearly tore out all of my hair. The only thing that saved me was that, at that point in the late night hours, Colin had started rocking all the 80s music on our iPod... Axel Rose saved the day, and my sanity. Someday I will by a real grommet setter and oh my, won't that be a thrill!
4. Time to sew the velcro onto the back flaps that wrap around the dowels and secure the fabric to the frame. They will eventually look like this:
Although you will do the exact same steps for both edges and both dowels, you need to do these one at a time to be sure your final piece fits nicely over the frame. Lay the piece you are working on over the frame and center it (more of less). Turn it all over and flip one raw edge up and over the dowel (below left photo). Mark a couple of inches in from the dowel (this need to be wide enough to be able to sew the width of velcro you have to the back of the flap). Trim on the outside of your mark with pinking shears. Iron a small single hem that lines up at your mark and sew a length of the loop tape of the velcro to the backside of the flap.
Lay the fabric back over the frame, flip the loop tape flap over and mark along its edge on the backside of the main panel (below left photo). Cut a piece of hook tape and sew it down on the near side of the marked line. You should now be able to attach on side of your panel over the dowel, securing with velcro. Now repeat with the other side being sure to hold your fabric fairly taught, although not tightly, over the second dowel as you mark so that your final piece attached snugly, not too slack and not too tight.