Monday, May 2, 2011

polkadot ruffle dress tutorial

This is the tutorial I put together for Knock-off week at Craftiness is not Optional.

I have had this mini Boden dress hanging on my inspiration board for awhile. My four year old daughter Sutton loves to wear dresses. She also loves to play. No tea parties for her, she loves playing outside with her brothers. She needs dresses that are comfortable and durable.

While $40 isn't a huge amount of money it's more than I would spend on a little girls dress especially one could easily make myself. I knew this dress would be easy to make since it is basically two pieces, front and back, with some ruffles and shirring. I bought 1-1/2 yards of 58" wide jersey which cost $6.99/yard at Hobby Lobby. With a 40% off coupon the total was about $7. Plus, I had almost a half a yard left over. I had all the other supplies on hand.

In this dress Sutton can run and jump and dance and explore and look adorable while doing it!

-Approximately 1 yard (more or less depending on your size) of jersey knit.
-Elastic thread
-Rotary cutter and straight edge (not required but very helpful)
-Water soluble fabric marking pen

1. Make your pattern. Choose a dress that has a loose, flow-y fit and no sleeves (or tuck the sleeves inside like I did). Turn the dress inside out and fold in half. Lay on pattern paper and trace around dress adding a little extra for seam allowance, about a 1/2" or 5/8", whatever you are comfortable with. You can see that I added about 1-1/2"-2" extension to the shoulder for the sleeves and some width and length. Fold the dress in half the other way and repeat the above instructions to make the back pattern piece.

You could trace your dress directly onto the fabric but I prefer to make a paper pattern, it makes sewing the next dress a snap! I already have another one in the works that is tunic length to wear with leggings.

2. Cut out your pattern pieces and lay them on your fabric with the straight sides on the fold. Pin and cut.

3. Cut a 2-1/2" slit in the center back neckline. It's easy to find the center when the fabric is still folded in half.

4. Jersey can be intimidating to sew with, but it's really quite easy! Use the right needle, a ball point 9 or 11, and the right stitch, a slanted zigzag (I am sure that's not the technical term for the stitch but that's what I call it!). The slanted zigzag stitch allows the fabric to still stretch which means the seams will not break when the garment is being put on or taken off.

Sew your two pieces together, right sides facing, at the shoulder and the side.

5. Cut some bias strips. Fold one selvage end to the adjacent side, cut on the fold. Using a rotary cutter and a straightedge, cut 1-1/2" strips parallel to the previously cut folded edge. You will need one strip 24" long and two strips 12" long for the neck and sleeve binding. You will also need three strips for the ruffles; 22", 20" and 18".

6. Slightly gather the neckline.

7a. Using a regular straight stitch sew the 24" strip to the neckline, right sides facing.

7b. Over lap the ends about a 1/2". Cut off excess strip.

8a. Press the seams towards the strip and fold the strip over the seams, press again. (Pin if needed)

8b. With the right side up sew close to the seam. Cut off excess strip on the inside.

9. Mark the waistline. I put the dress on my daughter and measured from the center neckline to where her natural waist is. Her measurement was 7" (the blue mark). With a straight edge mark across the dress on the front and back (purple mark).

10a. With elastic thread in the bobbin, sew all the way around the dress on your mark. I have found backstitching with elastic thread often jams my machine. To avoid that I just sew over the starting point by one to two inches.

10b. Using your presser foot and the previous stitch as a guide, sew multiple rows of shirring. I did five. Make sure you smooth out the gathers from the previous stitches but not so much that you stretch the fabric. Now you are done with the elastic thread.

Note: There are lots of opinions on how to do shirring. This is what works best for me:
-Slightly stretch the elastic while you hand wind it onto the bobbin.
-Set the tension slightly higher (7 on my machine which is usually set around 5)
-Don't backstitch.
-Always, always test the shirring on a scrap piece. My drop in bobbin machine will often not catch the elastic in the bobbin correctly on the first try. Then there is lots of unpicking and fabric damage.

11. Gather the remaining strips. Use the longest stitch and turn the tension all the way up and the fabric comes out perfectly gathered, no pulling threads!

12. Pin the ruffles to the bodice. I ended up only using two. I felt that three was overwhelming for this size dress (5T). Using a regular stitch and regular tension, sew the ruffles to the dress.

13. Attention to detail- using a seam ripper remove the gathering stitch. The top ruffle's gathering stitch was picked out and the bottom ruffle wasn't. See how much cleaner the top ruffle is?

14. Hem the dress and add a hook and eye to the top of the slit on the back neckline and you're done!!

Thanks Jess for having me here at Craftiness is not Optional! It's been an honor to be part of your knock-off series!


Char @ Crap I've Made said...

So cute!

WOM-MOMS said...

It looks like the jersey knit doesn't fray - good to know. Also, I don't make a lot of clothing so I didn't know about elastic thread. Cute dress!

Bec said...

What a beautiful dress on such a beautiful girl! I love that she loves both dresses AND romping around outside! Also, GORGEOUS scenery! That's it. I'm moving in! :) Thanks for the tut.

Nicole said...

love it! very cute!

Katie said...

OMG! I love this dress! I've never sewn elastic on before, but have wanted too for a while. Thanks for the tips. I'm a new followers of yours--love your blog. I'd love if you linked up to Sew Woodsy!

Anonymous said...

You are such an amazing sewer and an inspiration to my desire to do better!!!! I have tried doing the gather trick with my machine and have no luck. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I have a PFAFF, which might be the problem. Give me your insite, when you have time. Sure wish I knew you in person because I would love to take sewing lessons from you!!!! Keep up the awesome projects!

Esther said...

This is so beautiful. I would love to make one for my little girl. Thanks for the great inspiration and instructions.

Amy Gilman and Emily Lee (Sisters of the Wild West) said...

beautiful!!! great tutorial!! we are your newest followers! We would LOVE for you to link this up at our link party going on NOW!!
Amy and Emily

Shanda said...

This is so cute Erin, I love it. Do you think I could do it with regular cotton instead of stretchy fabric? I have an old cotton dress of mine I want to repurpose.

AKHIL said...

nice dress! a girl in bad teacher classroom is also wearing the same dress. You can Watch Bad Teacher Trailer from here.

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