Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not a knot dress

Today was one of the rare winter days that Olivia wore a dress.  It's a summer-weight dress but we layered it over leggings and a turtleneck and I like the look.  And it was a sewing project from last summer, so I'm finally taking a picture and sharing my how-to.  (Please excuse the fingerprinted mirror that has been leaning against the wall for six years; it's great fun for a baby and otherwise my house is spotless. Ahem.)

I used the same bodice from this tutorial as I did for Olivia's knot dress, but this time I followed the instructions even less and did straps with buttons.  Call me Maverick.  Somehow I sewed the shoulder straps and tie-backs into the seams of the bodice, so I must have made the straps & buttons first and then tried the bodice on her to pin them at the correct length before sewing the bodice & its lining together.  I know that is no help to you, but you could do the straps last and just sew them on afterward.

What is up with my blurry pictures?
I got the olive green buttons and skirt fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics because they've actually had some cute modern prints lately.  I did have to buy cotton gingham online because the polyester stuff just doesn't feel good.  And I was using the Matilda Jane dress from my knot dress post as inspiration, so the red gingham bodice was the starting point.  The brown fabric is leftover quilt binding, so it was already a folded strip and I used it for the tie backs, straps, and ruffled hem.

Okay, y'all.  I'm doing this from memory so I hope I have this right.  Feel free to holler at me if you see a glaring error!  This is for a dress approximately girls' size 5/6 and I assume you have basic sewing skills.

Sew the tie backs and straps from fabric strips that are about 3" wide.  My tie-backs were about 21" and shoulder straps were about 7 1/2".  Fold in half the long way and sew with right sides together, trimming the extra fabric at the corners, and turning right-side-out.  Iron them flat, and top-stitch if you feel led.  Make button holes so the bottom of the hole lines up with where you want your button.

Cut the bodice and corresponding lining pieces using the pattern.  Place and pin the straps between the layers along the top seam of the back bodice piece so the rough end of each strap lines up with the edge of your bodice pieces.  Make sure you account for your seam width, so pin your straps 5/8" in from the corner.  Sew the tops and curved seams (arm holes) of the bodice pieces to their associated lining pieces, then trim the corners and turn them right-side out.  Hopefully your shoulder straps are at the corners on the back piece.  Place the bodice pieces with their side seams right-side-together, placing and pinning the tie-backs between the layers, 5/8" up from the bottom.  Sew side seams, going over the straps a couple times, then turn right-side-out and sew your buttons on the front piece.

Figure out how long you want the skirt.  My skirt fabric is 1/2 yard of 44" fabric placed sideways so the long side is the bottom hem.  Sew the short sides together to make a tube.  Gather one edge (the top of the skirt piece) to equal the same diameter as the bottom of the bodice, then sew the skirt and bodice together with right sides together and the skirt seam in the back.

Last, make the bottom ruffle.  Here's a free tutorial on using your machine to gather instead of pulling it by hand with basting stitches.  (Thank you, Pinterest!  Here's my sewing ideas board.)  Having plenty of fabric for the hem ruffle helps so you just stop when you have enough length to go around the bottom of the skirt.  Once you sew those pieces together you're finished.

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