My inspiration was this adorable 1940s pattern for a little girls swimsuit.
I love it as a swimsuit but it isn't really practical for a soon to be 6 year old to wear swimming at the local pool and I really wanted to come up with a romper/playsuit that she could wear almost anywhere. I started with the bloomer pattern and although the package says it is a size 4, the bloomer is pretty full so I didn't have to make any alterations and it is plenty big for this romper.
To make one in a size 5/6 you will need:
approx. 1 1/4 yard main fabric contrasting ruffle fabric piece approx. 15" x 4" (you will cut from this) you could also use pre-made ruffle or just skip that part if you don't like it with the ruffle.
2 yards 1/4 inch elastic
2 buttons for the straps and 2 more decorative ones for the front if you like
1 package bias tape for the waist elastic casing
your favorite bloomer pattern
Now let's get started.....
For the bodice front - 2 pieces, 8" wide x 18" long (this will be gathered or "ruched" to about 10")
ruffle - 1 piece 14 1/2" x 3 1/4" tapered a bit on the ends
straps - 2 pieces 16" x 2 1/2 "
bodice back - 1 piece 16"w x 10" long
stay - 1 piece 1 3/4"w x 10" long (this will cover the ruching on the inside)
and the bloomer pieces (these are inside out here)
Now let's start sewing...
join the 2 main bodice front pieces with a center seam, 5/8 seam allow. press open and finish edges. I don't have a serger so you will see I "pink" and/or zig zag raw edges
fold the top edge over 5/8" and press, this is where you will sew the ruffle piece. You will notice I went ahead and basted the 2 outer edges with my gathering stitches here also, stopping just before the folded over edge. You can always do this step later when it is time to actually gather the sides.
now fold the ruffle piece over lengthwise, right side out and sew 2 lines of basting/gathering stitches
gather your ruffle to fit the top (folded over) edge of your bodice, matching up raw edges and pin. I am showing the inside here, the pins are on the outside since this is where I will sew.
see how the raw edges are matched on the inside
now stitch on the top edge of the outside of bodice, close to the fold. Be sure to remove the pins as you go, you don't want to sew over them and break your needle. I am only saying this because you wouldn't believe how many needles I have broken in this manner!
remove your basting stitches to make it nice and neat, and finish your edge on the inside
now you are ready to "ruch" the center. Sew a basting/gathering stitch about a 1/4" on both sides of the center seam (notice I have done this on top of the seam allowance, this will keep it from getting too bulky)
Now, I forgot to take pictures of this but it is pretty self explanatory....take your small "stay" piece and fold all 4 raw edges under 1/4" and sew (you will see what I mean in the next photo) Now gather the bodice piece to fit the size of the "stay" making sure your center line is straight on the outside (I pressed mine down a bit once I made sure the center seam was straight) and pin the stay piece
now sew the stay to the bodice. Notice on the upper edge the stay piece is on top of the ruffle seam, this will help hold it in place
now it should look like this
Now add another line of top stitching close to the first on the upper edge to keep everything neat and tidy
now gather the sides, you are almost ready to attach the bodice back
but first we need to add the elastic so fold upper edge under about 1/4 " press
and again about 1/2" (you just need to fit your elastic in the casing, I used 1/4" elastic)
and sew to form the elastic casing
now run your elastic piece through the casing (mine was 9" long to fit my moppet)
and secure with stitching at both ends
now pin the bodice back to front at side seams making sure the gathering on the front sides are even and fitted to the back piece then sew your side seams, finish your raw edges
we are on the home stretch now!
take your bloomer, stitch front pieces together and back together
I like to reinforce seams here, especially for children's play clothes. Clip curves, pink edges and press seams open (as I said, I don't have a serger and prefer to do things "old school")
now stitch side seams and crotch in the same manner
time to gather the bloomer! You know the drill, 2 rows of basting stitches (I did the front and back from between side seams so I could gather separately
now gather evenly and pin to the bodice, right sides together matching side seams and center front and back then sew (I used 5/8 " seam allowance)
now it is really important to make your raw edges neat here because you will add bias tape casing and run your elastic through it so you don't want it getting caught up) I trimmed neatly with the pinking shears and did a zig zag stitch
now take your bias tape and sew it to this seam edge, making sure it is the lower "bloomer" edge of the seam as you will then be folding it up and sewing another line of stitching to attach the bias tape to the bodice piece to form the waist elastic. Do this around the entire waist seam until they bias tape almost meets then stop as you will need to leave an opening to run the elastic through.
after you attach to the seam allowance fold the bias tape up and sew another line along the top edge of bias tape attaching it directly to the bodice. Make sure you are sewing close to the edge of the bias tape to allow enough room to get your 1/4" elastic through. sorry for the bad picture here
now it should look like this on the outside
now run your elastic piece all the way through the waistline casing using a safety pin, adjust the fit and sew the ends together. I used a 23" piece of elastic for mine, I wanted it to be cinched but not tight since this is a play suit and should be comfortable
turn right side out and it should now look like this. you could actually just hem the legs and be done if you wanted it to look more like a culotte type romper.
If you want the elasticized bloomer style leg openings the turn lower leg edges in 1/4", press and turn in again 1/2" and sew, leaving an opening for the elastic then run your elastic through the casing, adjust fit and sew ends together then sew up the opening.
it's time for the shoulder straps. Fold each strap piece lengthwise, right sides together sewing one end and along the length using 1/2 seam allowance, turn right side out and press. note: you can adjust the strap width to your liking, a little wider...narrower...criss cross in the back or halter style tie at the neck?
I placed mine about 2 1/2" from side seams on the inside of the bodice back and angled for for criss cross so she wouldn't have to deal with them falling down all the time
I sewed once along the elastic casing line on the lower then again on the upper edge since this will be a stress point
and once again, finished the raw edges
now figure out the best placement for button holes on your little one, add to the strap fronts and sew a couple of buttons on the inside front (I wanted these to be in the front so she could get it off and on herself, you could have it button in the back on a young child that will need assistance dressing anyway)
and a couple of decorative buttons on the front, you could also do a bow or whatever you like
and there you have it
one vintage inspired romper!
*please note: this tutorial is for personal use only and not for commercial purposes. Please do not reproduce. You are welcome to share a link to this tutorial but do not use my photos for your purposes. Thanks for your understanding.