Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheerleading, near and dear to my heart. *TIPS list.

Being a former high school cheerleader, High School cheerleading coach, and now mother of an aspiring cheerleader, you could say Cheer has a special place in my heart. Add the fact that our family is HUGELY into football + my ever evolving sewing skills, and you get a 5 month old with her very own custom cheer uniform(s).

When I first married my husband, I really had no interest/understanding when it came for pro football. My dad never watched football, and I never had a "team." I have always loved basketball, so when we got married, the deal was he would love my Lakers and I would love his Vikings... and after completing a season of Fantasy Football with him, I am obsessed with it.

Now, Caleb, is starting to play tackle football after playing two seasons of flag football. He is THRILLED, and Lily, needless to say, is on the cheerleading squad for his team. So of course Everly needed a cheer uniform for the Longhorns (Caleb and Lily's mascot) and the Vikings.

I don't use patterns. Ever. I hate them, they make me twitchy and my eyes cross... so creating a cheerleading uniform for a 5 month old was a little tricky. What I've found works for me is to use the kids' clothes that fit them well as a loose pattern, laid directly on my fabric.

If you're a person that needs the boundaries and step by step process, by all means, get a pattern and do what works best for you. My sister is exactly like that. If I tell her a recipe, and say "add a little olive oil," she will immediately ask me "how much is a little?" And we're twins. So I get it, some people are better with clear instructions. Or in her case, just having me do it. ;)

However, if you want a bit of a challenge and want the freedom to do more as YOU envision, follow these basic tips.

I thought about writing a tutorial on this, but it feels way too informal without measurements, so I'm calling this a "Tips List" instead. I get so many messages/emails from people asking me to make a custom outfit similar to one I've made before, the problem, however, is that since I don't use patterns, it's really hard to replicate my projects. With the kids here, I'm able to size them multiple times to make sure it's the perfect fit after I begin the project with a basic sizing idea. The purpose of this post is to show the basic construction of these cheer uni's. Once you can construct outfits you like mentally, it's much easier to come up with your own patterns, I promise!

If this all ends up being way too confusing, I apologize. I wish I could do a workshop for these sorts of things... maybe one day!

The following tips would most likely work for sizes 0-24 months clothing to be used as a basis for a cheer uniform. The buttons at the neckline make it suitable for babies to get in and out of.


  1. I use a shirt/dress/pants depending on what I'm making that fits the child perfectly. For this, I am using one of Everly's long shirts. I lay it directly on top of my fabric I'm cutting, and give myself a 1/2" seam allowance all the way around. I fold the fabric twice, along the grain, so one cut = front AND back pieces of dress. I am cutting the lining in the photos below as an example, you can do this all without a liner, just cut the "Longhorns" or whatever fabric you're using, instead. As shown in the next 2 images below:
2. The front of a shirt is different from the back. The neckline is lower. And for the purpose of this "pattern," it also has a shorter armhole, which will allow for it to folded over on and be buttoned. Take note of this and cut the front neckline lower, and the top of the arm hole, as shown below:

3. Next, you will sew the sides together, from the armpit to the hem, with "right" sides facing each other, using a 1/4" seam allowance.

4. Next, you'll press and pin 1/4" all around the top, from the from neckline, down the armholes, to the back. Then sew.

5. Next, if you want to add a cheer styled skirt, it's easier than it looks. Just cut several rectangles and triangles, and alternate sewing them until you've reached the circumference of your dress, and sew the skirt shut, so it's a circle. Then pin it to the dress, and sew the entire circle around (with "right sides facing each other):


6. If you want to add to this, it's very simple. For example, I added the banner across the front to make it look more like a uniform, just do this in the first steps, before you sew them front to the back. You're essentially "making" your fabric before you sew it.


I know this was vague, but if anything I hope it shows the process, so if you decide to make one, you have loose reference as to how to do it.

If you use this, please share your results with me! I love those emails!!