April 28, 2011

t-shirt to ruffle dress: a tutorial

Our kids have a deep and abiding love, ok, obsession, for our local cupcake and cookie shop. And when I say our kids, I really mean all four of us. And the dog too, actually because they ususally have treats for her as well. The very first day they were open, Briton happened to have lost his two front teeth and we were cruising downtown looking for a treat to celebrate, and low and behold, a cupcake shop had appeared. The owners snapped a photo of him, all chocolaty and gappy and we've loved them every since, making a pretty regular weekly trip for a one of their yummy cookies (my favorite is chocolate salted caramel) and always, always staying for a chat.

Earlier this spring we were in there for our post library treat when Evie pointed (for the millionth time) to their shirts and giggled over the dancing cupcake, it never got old for her, and I think it never gets old for them to see her love it. So the next week when we went in, there was a t-shirt waiting for her, and for me to make into something (this is how much they know me, they handed it off with a "it's too big but I bet your mom can make somethign out of it for you!") And since it's hard for me to resist a challange, and because someone wasn't going to leave me alone till she could wear it, the ruffle dress was born.

You can use either an second old shirt for the ruffles or buy jersey fabric for them, I've done both. The first time I used an old shirt but then I decided I wanted the ruffles to be bigger so I pulled them off and cut jersey strips. Either is fun and both ways the dress was well loved (as in, Evie didn't take it off for three days) I've been puttering with the idea of making her a skirt like this too, since she loves the poofyness of it and it's easier to keep clean than a tutu, kind of a meld between the skating skirt and this dress, but that may have to wait until after the move. Or maybe not.

T-shirt to Ruffle Dress

You'll need:

2 Adult t-shirts - 1 small or medium, one large or extra large (or 1 shirt and 1/2 yard jersey fabric)
Also a t-shirt that fits perfectly
Sewing machine armed with a knit needle (it's worth it to go get one, but you can go without)
Fabric scissors, pins, thread and all that jazz

1. First lay the smaller adult shirt on your cutting surface and lay the child sized shirt over it so that the neck lines up. Pin in place and cut around the child shirt leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around (leave the neck and the top of the sleeves uncut)

2. Turn the newly cut adult shirt inside out and, with a zig zag stitch, sew up the bottom of the sleeves and down the sides of the shirt. Try it on and trim the bottom to the lenght you want the finished dress.

3. Lay the larger shirt on your cutting surface and cut just under the armpits to create a large tube from the bottom of the shirt. Discard the top.

4. Cut the bottom of the shirt into equally sized strips or cut four strips from your jersey (I made mine 3 inches wide and cut four - I know, there are three there, but I did cut a fourth, promise).

5. With your machine on it's longest stitch length, sew along the top edge (about 1/4 inch down) of three of the strips and down the middle of the fourth . DO NOT BACK STITCH!

6. Pull gently on the bobbin thread on each strip to gather, maing sure the gathers are even along the strip, until the ruffles are about as big around as the bottom of the dress.

7. Pin one of the ruffles along the bottom edge of the dress and sew along the top using a zig-zag stitch. Pin the next ruffle on so that the bottom of this ruffle covers the stitching from the first. Continue until you have attached all of the ruffles, leaving the once that is stitched through the center for last.
8. Remove the gathering stitches and trim all threads!