Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Scrolly Dress

I'm sorry that I don't have a model for this dress :(
(I always love seeing how the finished project looks actually worn).  

I decided to make this dress for one of my friends' daughter (surprise, surprise it's not a baby shower gift!).  I wanted to make her something a little dressy and I've always loved how nice and lady-like shift dresses are.  Of course I couldn't make a plain Jane shift dress; I found some fabric with a cute pattern on it and added some ruffles and a contrasting hemline (I'm not really sure what you call the bottom piece?).

3/4 to 1 yard of main fabric (depending on your length)
1/2 yard of contrasting fabric

(1)  3" of 1/4" elastic or ribbon (to catch button)
(1)  button

Cut Out:
(2)  Main pieces
(1)  1.5" x 6" strip of main fabric (for v-split binding)
(2)  1.5" x perimeter of your arm hole strips of main fabric + 1/2" (for armhole binding)
(1)  1.5" x perimeter of your neck hole + 1" (for neck binding)
(1)  5" x perimeter of hemline contrasting fabric for hemline of dress
(1)  3" x 9" strip of contrasting fabric for front ruffle
(2)  3" x 7" strip of contrasting fabric for front ruffle

I started with Freshly Picked's bodice pattern that's part of her "Summer Frock" tutorial, and decided to extend it at a slight angle (if I had to guess, I'd say it was a 15-20 degree angle, in other words less than half of a 45 degree angle).  I chose to use a very slight angle because I didn't want the dress to be super wide (the little girl I was making it for is very tall for her age).  

After drafting my pattern, cutting out my two main pieces, sewing the two main pieces together at the shoulder seams, and finishing those seams, I sorta followed Simple Modern Mom's "Retro Ruffle Pillowcase Tutorial" to assemble the rest of the dress.

I started her tutorial at step 5, where you make the "v-split".  First I cut a 3 inch slit into the back of the dress.  Next I made binding out of the strip of fabric that was 1.5x6 inches (fold it in half, iron, and then fold each unfinished edge under 1/4" and iron again = binding) and sewed it onto my "v-split." *To save some time, go ahead and make your neck hole, and arm hole binding strips as well*  The easiest way to sew the binding strip on is to stretch the fabric into a straight line and pin it first.

When sewing your binding strip on, try to sew as close to the edge as possible (see picture below).

After sewing on your binding strip, there will be a little "lip" at the middle of the strip. Make sure your dress is inside out, fold the v-split in half and sew a 45 degree angle at the bottom (see picture below).

I skipped steps 8 and 9.  

Next, I made my ruffles out of the (1) 3x9 inch and (2) 3x7 inch strips.  Ruffles are super easy to make!  I'm sorry that I didn't include pictures (mostly because I was going back and forth to my ironing board), but here is how you do it:

<1>   Take your three strips of fabric, fold each in half (right sides facing), pin and sew a 1/4" seam along the long edge and one of the short edges (if you sew on both ends of the strip, you wont be able to turn it inside out!). 
<2>    Next turn your tubes inside out and iron each so that the long seam is in the center of the strip.
<3>   Baste stitch (set your straight stitch to the longest length possible) your three tubes down the middle, following the center seam without back-stitching at the beginning or end.  When you do this step, you want to be sure to leave plenty of thread at each end to make it easier to pull.
<4>   To make the ruffles (aka gathers), pull the bobbin thread until your fabric starts to bunch up.

Here is a video showing you how to do the actual gathering part (begins at about the 3:30 mark):

Our ruffles are not one-sided as hers are because we stitched down the center of our strip of fabric.  Also, you can't see our unfinished seams because we stitched our strips of fabric with the right sides facing and then turned our tube inside out.

Once you center and align your ruffles to your liking on the front of your dress, pin them on securely and stitch down the center of your ruffles (make sure you reset your straight stitch length on your sewing machine and back-stitch at the beginning and end of your ruffles!).  I made my center ruffle slightly longer than my two side ruffles.

My inspiration ↓

Now that your ruffles are sewn onto your dress, let's add some binding around the neck hole in order to pretty up those raw edges!  "That is great and all, but what do I do about that stinking v-split?", you ask.  Well, what I did was just fold under each end about 1/2 an inch, aligning the edge of the binding with that of the neck hole and pinned it to make it look neat (I left it unpinned in the picture below to illustrate how to fold it).  

This is also the part where you add your elastic or ribbon.  Just fold it in half and pin it on one side of the v-split, centering it with the binding and making sure it's also neatly tucked under the binding.  After sewing as close to the edge of the binding as possible all the way around, I chose to zig-zag stitch over my elastic for added security (I also decreased the width of the zig-zag stitch).

Here is the front view ↓

After finishing the neck hole binding, I went ahead and flipped the dress back inside out (right sides facing), and sewed (1/4" seam allowance) and finished my side seams with pinking shears.  

Pinking shears =*best purchase ever*

Next I pinned and sewed on my two arm hole binding strips.
It's slowly coming together...yay! ↓  

Here is a close-up of one of the armholes ↓

Now that the neck and arm hole binding was finished, I decided to go ahead and add my button.  To make things easier, I used my machine's (Brother CS6000i) button foot. If you don't have a button foot, I think you'll be okay because all it really does it hold it in place a little more stably (yep, that's how you spell it) than a normal foot.  

With my machine (be sure to refer to your own machine's manual before sewing on buttons), I had to lower my feed dogs (the little teeth below your sewing foot that moves your fabric as you sew), and set my machine to a zig-zag stitch with a length of zero.  Next I positioned my button where I wanted it to be.  Manually stitch the button holes at first, adjusting the stitch width as necessary to make sure the needle goes nicely into each hole.  Once your width is properly adjusted, put the pedal to the medal for about ten to fifteen stitches and voila!  Your button is finished (after you clip off the nasty little loose threads)! 

Did I mention that loose threads ARE THE ENEMY! ...Ugh. we'll save that for another time.

✔ Ruffles
✔ Neck and arm hole binding
✔ Elastic hoop
✔ Button
✔ Shoulder and side seams

Okay, so now let's deal with the bottom hem of the dress:
  1. Take your 5" x perimeter of hemline strip of fabric, fold it in half with wrong sides facing and iron.
  2. Pin it along the bottom on the right side of the dress (the outside), lining up the unfinished sides.
  3. Sew all the way around the hemline with a 1/4" seam allowance along the unfinished seams.
  4. Finish the seams however you like (I used my pinking shears again)
  5. Iron the seam allowance to one side or straight down the middle, however you prefer :)
Here is it already sewn and pinked ↓

Yay for pinking shears ↓

I ironed my seam allowance to the top ↓

I didn't really mention this because I feel that it is the very lazy way of doing things (but it also happens to be quicker and easier), but I didn't measure my bottom hemline strip very accurately...I just kinda over-guessed the length, pinned it on, and sewed it.  Once I reached the overlapping ends, I turned 90 degrees, sewed down to the edge and pinked the extra material off (see picture above).  If this makes no sense, ignore it, LoL.

Anywho, now it's time to sit back and marvel at your adorable creation (after obsessively ironing it, of course)!

My only worry is that the bottom of the arm hole will rub her underarm since it is so wide.  When I made my binding, I used a 3" wide strip and ironed each end under 1/2", so I ended up with 1" wide binding.  If you follow the measurements I gave in this tutorial, you'll end up with 1/2" wide binding (which will probably be better...not sure what I was thinking?).

If you make a similar dress, please post links!!!


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