01 February 2013

How to sew inexpensive dresses and jumpers

Ellie loves dresses. She loves to twirl and spin and be a princess.   If she could, she'd wear them everyday, all day, and probably even sleep in them.  But dresses can be really expensive, especially the cute, twirly kind.

There's a solution.  My mother-in-law showed me a great way to turn shirts/tank-tops into dresses. Several of Ellie's winter dresses were made this way and I've made a few summer ones as well. Her giraffe Halloween costume was made using a similar technique.

Giraffe dress--Halloween 2012
Ellie picked the colors and fabric for this one--so pretty

I like to find clearance tank tops and some coordinating (on-sale) fabric to make these little dresses/jumpers.  This keeps my cost down so I don't feel like I'm losing a fortune when she plays too rough or gets a stain or tear. Not only are these cheap to make, but they're really easy as well.

1. Determine the length of the dress. Measure from the bottom of the shirt to where you want the dress to fall. This is the amount of fabric you'll need, plus 2-inches for seam allowance.

The dresses pictured above were made by cutting several inches off the bottom of the shirt first so the dress would begin higher up.  You can do this, too--the process is the same.

I like to fold my fabric in half for the extra weight and durability. If if you do this, doubly the length measurement and then add 2-inches for the seam allowances.

2. Fold and hem the bottom of the fabric (always remember to fold twice for hems).  If you're doubling the fabric, fold in half and press the bottom.  The fold is in-lieu of the seam.

3. Gather the top/raw edge of the fabric.  I have an awesome gathering foot that I use and this step goes really quickly. 

4. Fold the fabric in half and put a pin in on the fold.  Fold in half again to find the center and mark.  Turn the shirt inside-out and the same. You want to break both the fabric and shirt into quarters so that the skirt is centered and spaced evenly once stitched.

5. Pin the first quarter in place.  To stitch knit onto broadcloth fabric, stretch the knit, and stitch in place.  Do this for the remaining quarters. 

6. Stitch the sides closed and finish edges with a tight zigzag stitch.

7. Turn inside out, press,  and twirl away.

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