Here we go! As promised, here is the first tutorial of the month, which also happens to be my first tutorial ever. I hope you find it useful and if you have any questions, please shoot :)
Fabric recommended: Knit Fabric (I’ve used medium-weight interlock cotton).
Yardage: between 1 to 3 metres/yards, depending on your measurements and how long you would like the dress to be (I used just under 1.5m with fabric 140cm/55″ wide)
Notions: Ballpoint needles; Twin needle (for hem); Elastic thread*
To start things off you’ll need to take a few measurements and do some very easy maths. In between brackets [ ], I have written my measurements to give you a better idea of how I worked it all out (first in centimetres, then in inches).
- Meas. A: around the bust [92cm/36.25″]
- Meas B: measure at the bust level, but this time start and stop under your arms at the point just before it becomes your back [54cm/21.25″]
- Meas. C = A – B [38cm/15″]
- Meas. D: Length from armpits right down to your heel, or wherever you’d like the dress to stop [125cm/49″]
- Meas. E = (B x 1.3) + 2.5cm/1″ [72.7cm/28.5″]
- Meas. F = (C x 1.3) + 2.5cm/1″ [51.9cm/20.5″]
Straps (x 4): 4cm x 50cm / 1.5″ x 19.5″
Lay the front and back pieces RST (Right Sides Together). Using a ballpoint needle stitch/overlock on the long side using a 1.2cm/0.5″ seam allowance. Repeat on the other side.
Overlock the raw edge along the top, then fold it down 0.7cm (1/4″) and stitch in place using a stretch or zigzag stitch. If you don’t have an overlocker, just fold the edge down ¼”, then another ¼” and stitch in place.
To make the bodice, put the elastic thread in your bobbin*, using normal thread for the needle, and sew on the right side of the fabric (the elastic will show on the wrong side). Starting 1.5cm (1/2″) from the top, sew horizontal lines. I used the outside edge of my presser foot as a guide, which made my lines 1cm (3/8″) apart, but you can make them wider if you’d like. Sew the lines all along the bust height, so as to make the shirring stop at your under-bust (for me it ended up being around 10.5cm/4″ high).
Now take your 4 straps pieces. Laying 2 pieces RST, pin along the long edges then stitch/overlock using 0.7cm (1/4″) seam allowances. Turn right side out and press well with an iron. Repeat for the other side. Try the dress on and decide where you would like the straps to sit. Mark the spot with a pin or fabric marker. Check the length of your straps – you might need to shorten them to make them fit you perfectly (mine ended up being 36cm/14″ long).
Attach them to the inside of the dress at the markings you’ve made before and stitch (stretch or zigzag) them on the hem part (see photo below).
Try the dress on again. Check the straps are the correct length before cutting the excess fabric off. Then, check the length of the dress and fold the bottom hem towards the wrong side of the fabric to obtain the desired length. Pin in place and press with an iron. Put your twin needle in your machine and sew the hem in place. And you’re done!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or send me an email. If you’re making this dress for yourself, send me a picture, I’d love to see your creations :)
Note: I’ve made mine really simple and long (to hide those elephant-sized ankles in the last weeks of pregnancy), but you could also make them shorter (knee-length would look great for instance). Use some lovely printed knit fabric to make them more fun or add a bit of color by using a contrasting thread in your needle when doing the shirring/bodice. Personalise them any which way you can, the possibilities are endless.
* If you’ve never used elastic thread before or done any shirring, you can find a whole bunch of tutorials online. I’ve learnt how to do shirring using this fantastic tutorial by Flossie Teacakes. She recommends to multiply the width of the fabric by 2, which is what I would normally do, but for this dress I only multiplied by 1.3 (see meas. E and F), partly because I’m using a knit fabric that naturally stretches, and partly because otherwise the dress would end up being extremely baggy. You can choose to multiply by 1.5 if you like.
As for the type of elastic thread, I’d strongly recommend to use a good quality one (I use Gutterman). They are more expensive, but are worth the money. I tried to make the turquoise dress using cheap elastic and after sewing 2-3 rows had to unpick them and start all over again with Gutterman thread. Turned out the cheap elastic wasn’t half as stretchy as the Gutterman one and was creating some creases and folds as I was sewing. It also made for a much tighter shirring so the dress wouldn’t have fit around my bust.