Saturday, 6 July 2013

Summer dress

So following on from my last post I've been making a summer dress for a toddler.  The pattern is versatile and can be adapted to anyone of any size - adult or child.
To make this you will need a sewing machine, measuring table, thread, scissors, shearing elastic, a safety pin and fabric of your choice.

You need to start by taking a chest measurement from the fullest part of your chest.  Then follow this simple formula that I found in this fabulous book

Chest measurement / 4 = x
Chest + x = y
y / 2 = z

So for my dress for a 3 year old the chest is 53cm and z = 33cm.
That is the width of the top of your fabric and makes the top of the diagram - now follow the diagram below.

The first box is for the smocking so for a three year old I did a length of 15cm but you need to decide how long you want the smocking to be for your garment. Then continue the box down to equal the length of your dress ( for me it was 46cm top hem to bottom hem ).  The wings on either side are coming down so the bottom point is a third of your Z measurement on both sides ( for me 11cm ).  Adding this gives the dress a full skirt which really adds to the finish.

Mark this pattern out and lay fabric out.

Cut out the fabric to the shape above twice ensuring you leave a 2,5cm seam allowance on top of all your measurements.  Now you have two pieces of fabric in this shape.

Place the fabric so that the right sides (or part of the fabric you want to be the outside of the dress) are facing together.  Now sew the seam along both sides using a straight line stitch.  You will need to seal the raw edges of the fabric to avoid fraying which can be done using an overlocker or a simple zig zag stitch.
You now should have something like this.

Complete a hem along the top and bottom of the dress.  Do this by folding over around 1cm of fabric and stitching around the fold.
Then repeat this process again folding the fabric over.  This time ensure your stitching stays the same distance from the edge of the fold as this will show on your finished garment.  This will result in no raw edges and a neat hem.

Now you move onto the smocking - prepare your machine as explained in the last blog post.   Now sew a line along the top of the fabric about 0.5cm from the edge and when you reach your starting point guide the machine around a cm below your first line and continue.  
Use the back stitch setting for a few stitches at the start and end of your smocking.
  Your fabric will gather more as you continue.  Try to make sure you keep sewing straight and don't allow the fabric to bunch under the needle as this will show.

You now have a finished garment if you chose to make a strapless dress however I have chosen to add some simple straps to finish it off which makes this perfect for a child running around in the summer.

You will need to decide for your pattern how long you need your straps to be but for this dress I have made four strips of 25cms long.  I cut strips of 4cm and folded them over so the right side of the fabric was facing each other.
I then stitched a straight line around a cm away from the fold.  Trim the raw edge and you will have 4 strips like this.

Now take a safety pin and attach to the end ensuring you are not too close to the edge as then it could fray.  Push the safety pin into the tube and begin to thread it through.  This is fiddly and requires some patience (you can also buy a hook that makes it easier).  As the safety pin comes through the other end the fabric should easily turn until you have a neat tube.  If you find the tube gets stuck just pull it gently in the opposite direction so that you remove the bunching and begin again.

Tuck in the raw ends and stitch.  Now attach with a straight line stitch to the top of the dress matching the distance from the seams on the front and the back of your dress.
Trim your loose threads and you have a great dress that you made yourself!  The sleeves fasten at the top in a cute bow.

I hope you have a fab time making this!  It's such a satisfying project because it doesn't take too long but looks so professional! Share your pictures when you finish and get ready to proudly say 'I made this!' :-)