Thursday, October 2, 2008

One-Hour-To-Sew Dress Tutorial

Yes, from start to finish (and I mean including taking these photos!), this dress took me 1 hour to make (I started at 12:50, and ended at 1:48). I have so many possibilities swimming in my head! Even baby-doll empire waist type shirts for myself. You see, the hardest part about sewing (for me) is the neck and sleeves. I can do it, but lets just say its at that point, every time, I get frustrated. I like sewing to be fun! And this was certainly fun!
I managed to take photos along the way. Unfortunately the pictures are not the best quality (I should have had my son do it!), but its good enough to get the idea.
First, you need a shirt and fabric. I purchased 1 yard of flannel for a size 3T (I don't know how to advise how much to purchase for a particular size, but take the roll of fabric at the fabric store, and unroll it until you think you have enough, and then purchase a little more ;) )

I made a dress from the shirt and fabric pictured above, but to follow is all the shirts and coordinating fabric that I have left to sew. Be creative - uniqueness is wonderful! I'm finding the most important thing with sewing is to wash, dry and iron the fabric before you cut and sew. Really, its that important! Its made a tremendous difference in the way my projects turn out.

Take the shirt and hold it up to your little girl (or yourself). Wherever the seam will look best, add about an inch (for the seam allowance), and cut across (see below). I like to fold the shirt in half and cut, so that the sides under the sleeve are the same. Once I unfold the shirt, I straighten the front and back if needed.
Take the fabric, and again hold it up to your little girl. Add about 2 inches from where you would like the hem to be - remember, its better to have too much fabric than too little! You can always cut a little more off, but you can't glue it back on!

Then VERY loosely stitch across the top of the fabric (I do it as loose as my machine will let me). Take one of the pieces of thread, and start gathering the fabric. I will warn you that flannel is not as easy as cotton! But it worked out fine, it just took a little more patience :) Gather it as much as will be needed to match the circumference of the shirt. In other words, gather the material, and then match both gathered ends together. With your fingers, pinch where the seam will begin (the seam that will be sewn down the back, to make a skirt out of the fabric), and match it up to the shirt. You may have to let a little gather out, or gather it a little more. Prepare to play with this for a little bit.
Once you have it right, sew on what will be the back seam (pictured below). One fabulous secret with flannel, is you can almost iron it with your hand! I was able to open up the seam as pictured below and just press it open with my fingers, and it stayed open. That was pretty handy and came in handy when I sewed the hem! When I made t-shirt dresses this past summer, I ironed the cotton, before I cut it, but also as I sewed - ironing all seams and the hem. I would not skip that step ever again when sewing with cotton, and possibly other fabrics. But with the flannel, I was able to skip that step.
Take your shirt and put it inside the fabric (pictured below). Have the fabric turned inside out, but keep the shirt regular (not turned inside out!). Match right sides together, and make sure the center of the back of the shirt is matched with the seam (pictured above). The seam will be down the back of the dress when finished.
Sew the shirt and the fabric together. Be patient sewing over the gathering. Its not the easiest part of sewing, but certainly not the hardest if you are just patient. As you will see below, my sewing is not the cleanest nor the straightest, but the job gets done just fine. I like to sew two times around for reinforcement (a toddler is wearing this afterall). I allow enough fabric, so that once the sewing of the shirt to the fabric is done, I can trim around it to make it look a little neater.
Then its time to hem the dress (oops, I didn't take a picture of that!) I do that with the machine as well. I like to double-fold the fabric before sewing. In other words, I fold the fabric up, and then fold it up again, so you don't see the frayed edge. Pinning isn't a bad idea, and I did that when I ironed the cotton, but because the flannel stayed put so well, I didn't pin it this time.
And there you have it! You're done!
Some pictures of the finished dress:

I'd say I have a happy customer!


Anonymous said...

She is so beautiful! You did a great job!


Nathan said...

I agree with Grammie!

Liz said...

What a wonderful dress!!! Keep sewing. Never got into sewing. Becca is taking a sewing class at school...she's making a back pack - we picked out the material...very nice.

Loni said...

I love these dresses! My MIL made one this summer for my daughter and it's her favorite dress. I wish she'd make more, but I am afraid she bores quickly with one pattern.

Maybe I can show her your pics and ask her to make a few fall/seasonal dresses for my daughter!

Valerie said...

Oh I just love this!!! She is so precious. This is my first visit with you and I promise I will be back.

The Crazy Bus said...

It's really cute! Good job! I love the picture of her up close. I think that's my favorite!

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow