May 11, 2011

the easy peasy dress: a tutorial

I was feeling much better this weekend, thank goodness. Well enough to sew and then bake and then sew some more. Not all in the same day of course, but over the course of three, which considering that I was falling asleep every time I sat down for most of the last week and a half, is pretty good.
This dress what the first project. I'm not really sure I can technically say that I "sewed a dress" here, it's more a case of turning something into a dress. But I'll count it. And you should too.Because this is the EASIEST DRESS YOU CAN EVER MAKE. No, it's really that easy. If you know how to turn on your machine and press the pedal, you can make this. I saw an image on Pinterest and I'll be totally honest, I didn't even click through to the page with directions because just looking at the idea was enough, but to give credit where credit is due, I went there today, and she did it just about the same way as I did, except I didn't do the measuring part. I'll explain below.

Also, it's probably the cheapest dress you'll ever make too because you probably have three quarters of what you need in your house right now.

That would be:

A t-shirt (long enough to come to the knees of the person who will wear the dress - so Evie's was made form an old fittedish t of mine.
A sewing machine
Elastic thread

That's it my friends.

The shirt I was using happened to be striped and that made things a whole lot simpler. If you happen to have one to use, find the stripe that runs closest under the armpits as possible without actually crossing the stitching of the arm. If you don't have a striped shirt, no worries. Take a ruler and a pencil and draw a line across the front of the shirt just under the armpits and then repeat on the back. You only need the one line to get you started.

Take an empty bobbin and wind it with elastic thread. You'll want to do this by hand and with some tension, meaning wrap it tightly. I'm not sure if wrapping it tightly necessarily helps with the shirring (which is what this technique is called) but it helps to get the maximum amount of elastic thread on there as possible, and you'll need that. Don't let the idea of hand winding the bobbin scare you off, it only takes a minute.

Load your bobbin as you normally would and load the top of the machine with whatever color thread you want. Set your machine to the longest stitch length you can on a plain old straight stitch and line the needle up with that line, starting under one arm. Take a few stitches, back stitch and then sew all the way around the shirt on the line, back stitching at the other end.
Now, using that first line (see how it's starting to bunch a little? You want that!) Move the fabric down so that the needle is about 1/4 inch away from the line. Use your foot as a guide. The edge should line up with the first line you did. Now repeat. Keep sewing parallel lines until you have sewn about 3 inches of shirring. You may have to stop midway and re-load your bobbin. If you urn out mid row just back stitch over the spot where you ran out and keep going, although it's much easier if you check your bobbin after each row is finished so that you have a newly filled bobbin at the start of a row.

I also ran a row around the sleeves, same technique.
And that's it! Trim your threads and hand it off to your girl. Shirring is one of my favorite sewing tricks, especially when it comes to little girls and summer dresses. Once you have it down it's just about the easiest way to make tube tops and simple dresses but starting with a ready-made shirt makes it even faster.

Let me know if you try it! I'd love to see pics!