Saturday, February 5, 2011

Play Dress Tutorial


You can make one of these for your own little girl using any t-shirt pattern.  There are so many patterns to choose from.  I'm using a pattern from Ottobre 5/06, but you could use a Kwik Sew t-shirt or any other pattern that you own.

First, you will need to alter your pattern to add the empire seam.  Most t-shirt front and back pattern pieces are designed to be cut on the fold.  You will want to draw a line on your pattern tracing perpendicular to the edge of the pattern that goes on the fold.  Simply measure down from the armpit the same amount on both the front and back pattern piece and draw the line.  ( I didn't cut along the line because I may want to use this tracing to make the original shirt, but you can cut along the line if you want.)



Now, cut out your fabric using your altered pattern pieces.  I folded the excess out of the way when cutting the front and back yoke pieces.  For the skirt, you will cut 2 rectangles.  For this dress, I wanted a very full skirt, so I cut the front and back skirt pieces twice the width of the front and back yoke pieces.  The length of the pieces will depend on how long you want your dress to end up.  I cut it longer than I needed and trimmed off the excess before hemming.



I do a couple of things that I think are important before assembling this type of dress.  Most t-shirt patterns will tell you to reinforce your shoulder seams to prevent them from being stretched out with wear.  You can buy a special product called fusible stay tape for this purpose, or you can use clear elastic or even a strip of any woven fabric you have on hand.  I don't buy the stay tape, but I do prefer something fusible, so I use interfacing.  (I save interfacing scraps for this purpose.)

Non-woven interfacing will stretch in one direction, but not in the other.  For the shoulder seams, I cut a narrow strip of the interfacing in the non-stretchy direction and fuse it in place.

I like to provide some extra stability to the yoke seam (where the skirt is attached) as well.  I do want this seam to maintain a little bit of stretch, but I don't want it to stretch out too much, so I cut a strip of the interfacing, this time in the direction it does stretch, and fuse it in place along the bottom of the front and back yokes.


Now, you will assemble the top of your dress, following your pattern directions.  I sewed one shoulder and then applied the binding to the neckline and sleeves before sewing the other shoulder seam.  Then, inserted my sleeves and sewed up the side seams and sleeve seams.   Press as you go.  (I highly recommend using a pillow or pressing ham to shape your neckline and sleeves as you go.)



Now, you will prepare your skirt to attach to the top of your dress.  Sew the side seams of the skirt, and then sew two rows of basting stitches along the top edge of the skirt.  Pull the bobbin threads to gather the top edge of the skirt and pin it right sides together to the prepared top of the dress.  You need to adjust the gathers, so the skirt fits well and so that the gathers are as even as possible.

Stitch the skirt to the dress top, using a stitch that will stretch. (I used my serger to construct this dress, but you could do it on a regular sewing machine.)  You can topstitch this seam if you wish.

Hem your dress, and voila, a quick and comfy playdress that will be perfect for summer!

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