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Friday, February 18, 2011

STASH Challenge- A Dress Making Adventure

First of all, I need to disclose that I have never made a dress (well, before this one, and I am not even sure this should count). Nor have I ever looked at a dress pattern. I have been reading some books on dressmaking and pattern drafting. Oh, and I have never made a dress pattern. I have made some handbag patterns, but I do not think that would qualify me to teach anybody how to make a dress. So, what I am going to do is show you how I made a dress. I plain cheated. It is as simple as that. I started with a shirt. As a matter of fact it was a very nice, long sleeve maternity shirt I found buried deep in my closet.
 I put the shirt on and marked where I was going to cut it off. I had help with this. It would have been much easier if I  had a dress form. (I am making one this weekend, if you want so see how it turns out, check back sometime next week!) The little X with the needles mark the spot for a small pleat. One for each side......the pleats go right under the breasts. Did I say I planned an empire waist dress?
First I cut the front. It is not a straight cut. The front is a bit longer and curved towards the center. Again, because of those breasts.

 In the back, I cut in a straight line. Then I rummaged through my fabric to see what would match the shirt. I found 1 1/2 yards of chocolate brown corduroy. It was perfect. I just sewed up the whole piece of fabric along the selvage. Then I matched up the seam to the middle of the shirt's back and started pinning it together. With the extra 8 inches, I made a pleat in the front. Then I started basting it together.
 At this point the dress resembled a sack. The maternity shirt was a bit too loose also. I needed to add darts for shape. Remember my disclosure? If you are a seamstress or have made clothes, please shut your eyes and scroll down a bit. Anybody else, let me warn you; this is not how you add darts! This is how an impatient, inexperienced, wanna-be-sewer adds darts.
Now that we are clear, let's move on. I had to do some math. The waist was almost 10 inches smaller than the dress. I knew I should add 2 darts in the front (right under the breast pleats), 2 at the sides and 2 or 3 in the back. I settled on 3 for the back. I did some calculations and I tried to place them as evenly as possible and this took a bit of tinkering. All the darts were 9 inches long, the length to my hips. I also had to add darts to the top. So, darts were pinned at the sides, right under the armpit, and 3 in the back. Two of the back darts ran quite high up the shirt.  Again, I had to do a lot of pinning, trying on, and unpinning to get it right.

 Once I was happy, I basted all the darts, tried it on, adjusted a few of the darts and I felt it was ready.  Again, this is not how it should be done...I just started sewing at the skirt dart point, all the way up to the shirt dart point.
 A close up of the back, still pinned.
 The finished back. Yes, it is a bit uneven where the two fabrics meet -hence the reason why this is not how darts are done- but I knew I was going to cover it up.
I cut a 40 by 4 inch strip of corduroy, and sewed it together lengthwise. I left a bit opened at the end. Turned it right side out, ironed it, so the seam would be in the middle and pinned it to the dress.

 I had too much extra, so I cut some off. Next, I folded down the end that was not sewn together all the way,
 as this out of focus picture shows and tucked the other inside.
 It looks very neat. Then I top stitched it to the dress, both edges. Then I hemmed up the dress. Now for some embellishment....
 I cut 3 circles out the extra fabric I had from the shirt and the corduroy. Zigzagged around the circles and cut them out. They are not perfect, but it really does not matter.

I sewed the circles together, by making  a small circle in the middle, which I pulled tight (this part was done with good old needle and thread) and sewed a pearl bead in the middle.

I cut out a stem and leaves and used fusible webbing to attach them to the shirt. Sewed around the stem and leaves with a straight stitch and used Fray Check on the edges.

linked up to Made By You Monday