Oct 27, 2011

Mummy's old dress into little girls dress

One of the things I love doing is searching for tutorials online, looking at what other people are doing and how they are doing it.  I'm always picking up tips here and there, and even if I don't follow the tutorial exactly, they are always great for inspiration.

I've decided to do my own tute to "give something back" so I don't feel like such a scavenger pinching everybody else's great ideas!  Hopefully it will be useful to somebody!  And if anybody does decide to use my tutorial for their own projects, I'd love to see the finished product.

Mummy's old dress into little girl's dress

What you will need:

1 x dress you no longer wear 
I had a tiered dress but this would work well with any dress.  I have a dress with a busted zip down the side I am thinking of using as well - I will just have to cut out the zip and put in a side seam instead.  
Elastic - I used 3/4 inch
Coordinating thread
Ribbons, buttons, fabric scraps for decoration


First of all, I cut the dress.  This dress was lined but I only cut the top layer.  I might use the lining for something else later.  To work out how long you want your finished dress, measure your child or take a measurement off a dress you already know fits your child well.  To this measurement, add an inch for the hem, and about an inch and a half for the top casing.  This dress had a shirred waistband, so I cut it right under the waist, and again about half way down the final tier.  I've marked the cut lines in white here (obviously cut the bottom straight across, I just have a curved line here because the dress is all spread out):

From the portion at the bottom of the dress, I cut two strap pieces and two sleeve pieces, like this:

Don't worry too much about the shape of your sleeves, as long as one has a gently curved edge, and one has more of a pronounced curve, you should be right.  You'll gather it so in the end you don't really notice the shape of it.

Now you will need to sew a casing around the top of your dress. Fold the top of the dress down, to the inside, half an inch, then 1 inch. Iron in place. Then stitch from the outside right on the very edge of your casing, almost all the way around (remember you need to leave a gap to thread your elastic through).

Then put another line of stitching about 1/8 inch down from the top of the dress. This will help to keep your elastic from twisting in the casing, and also makes a nicer gather around the neckline of the dress.

Measure your child's chest - under the armpits is best as this is where the dress will sit.  Add an inch to this measurement and cut your elastic.  Now you can thread your elastic through the casing like this:

Overlap the ends of the elastic and secure with a zigzag stitch.

Now we need to make the straps. Take your two strap pieces. Iron them in half, long ways, so that the long edges meet in the middle. Then fold in half again, and iron flat. Like this:

Take your sleeve pieces. Hem the edge with a slight curve. I overlocked mine, and then turned this overlocked edge just under and did a very narrow hem. If you don't have an overlocker you can just turn it under, and under again. You could do a rolled hem if you like, but I don't know how to do one of these so I just went with what I knew!

Then, sew a gathering stitch around the other (more pronounced) curved side of your sleeve. Use a nice long stitch here - I use a stitch length of 4 as this is all my machine goes up to.

When you're done, pull on the threads of your gathering stitch until the sleeve is about half the length that it was to start with. Do the same with your second sleeve.

You now need to attach your sleeves to the straps.  Open up the strap as in the picture below, and pin the sleeve to one edge, so that when the sleeve is sewn shut, the sleeve is sandwiched inside.  Hide your gathering stitch so that it lines up approximately with where you will sew your seam.

Close up your strap and add more pins if you like.

Sew down the edge of the strap with a narrow seam (mine was about 1/8 inch), making you sure you catch all three layers together.

Sew down the other side of the strap in the same way.

Now you have finished your sleeve! Do the other one!

Once you have your two sleeves completed, figure out where you want to attach them to the dress. I convinced my model to try on her dress so I could pin the straps where I wanted them first, but this isn't always successful (particularly if she is in a difficult mood!). As the top is elasticated, you've got a bit of lee-way, so the positioning doesn't have to be perfect. Once you've determined where you want to put them, pin them in place on the inside of the dress, and then from the outside, stitch them along the two lines of stitching you've already got (the ones on the top and bottom of the elastic casing.  Try not to stitch through the elastic.  This is where mine sit at the back:

And the front:

I also decided to make a couple of little rosettes out of some scraps and navy blue ribbon that I had.  I used this tute for the rosettes, but there are heaps of them online.  You could do anything for the embellishment though, or leave it off completely, it's up to you.

Now just hem the dress and you're done!

Time to play!

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