Wednesday, May 13, 2009

my first, and probably only, tute

Remember the dress?
not that one

I've finally made time to put together a tutorial for it
especially for Mrs. Jo
For each wear-any-way dress you'll need:

2 fabrics 1/2 - 1 yd depending on length desired
(both fabrics will need to match or at least coordinate with the FOE)
2/3 -1 yd Fold Over Elastic aka FOE
1/4 - 1/2 yd other elastic - 1/2" is good
I've broken this down into tiny steps
you may be able to skip some of them...
you should be able to click on any photo to enlarge it

record measurements

you'll want length from about 2" above chest to knee,
or however long you want the dress

across the chest - where you want the shoulder straps to hit

and around the shoulder / underarm

using the length measurement, cut your fabric nice & straight.
Be sure to add a seam allowance.
I use 1/4" seams for everything; use what you like.

Lily's dress (minus shoulder straps) needs to be 17"
so I cut it at 17 1/2", because there is a top and bottom seam.

Making sure that both pieces of fabric are the exact same width
trim off the selvedge edge

Lay one fabric on top of the other
and fold the folded sides over towards the selvedges
Your fold should be 1/4" (or whatever seam allowance you choose)
away from the selvedge.
The selvedge will be your one side seam,
the fold will be the other side - no seam

Cut a backwards 'J'
(these will be the bottom half of the arm holes)
going in 3-4" on the side and 3 1/2 - 5" from the top
(this will be determined by your shoulder/u.arm measurement)

for Lily's I went down & in 3 1/2"

it's much harder to write instructions that it is to sew the dress;
I hope this is making sense!

This is what it will look like all unfolded.

makes more sense now, huh?

Sew the two front/back sections - right sides together

Realize that you should not be trying to sew and create a tutorial
at 4:20 when you should be cleaning the house & fixing dinner
because you will mess up in your rush.

Tear out seam & re-sew

not perfect, but good enough

Sew the bottom.
It should be pretty well lined up already.

Thank your sweet baby for being such an angel.

Iron your seams open.
Or is it 'press' your seams?
Using your iron, press open the seams. How's that?

Turn dress right side out
and run the iron over the seams again for good measure

my underarm doesn't look quite deep enough.
Better take it down another 1/2"

Top stitch both front/back sections.
Your stitching should be 1/4" or so from the seam.

Dig through your elastic & find a piece that looks like it'll do.

Cut 2 pieces of elastic based on chest measurement;
don't forget to add seam allowance.
Always stretch elastic a bit before measuring and cutting.

Sew another seam, parallel to the first one.

You are creating the casing for your elastic
so the width of your elastic
will determine how far apart these 2 rows of stitching are.

This part is just a tad tricky.
Not really tricky, just a tad.

You do it just like you would a side seam on a lined bodice.
Find the 2 bottom corners

(see - not so bad...)

and pin the side together at the bottom seam - right sides together.
You'll be sewing the 'tube' closed;

inside fabric gets sewn to inside fabric & outside gets sewn to outside
(as if there were an inside or outside to this dress!)

Starting at the top 'inside', sew down to the bottom
Agh -watch the pin!
continue sewing through the bottom & back up to the top of the 'outside'.

Reach down in there & get that seam pressed open.
Ironed open.

Turn it right side out.
Or wrong side out, if you want.
all seams should be inside the dress
surely you know what I mean.

It's almost looking like a dress, now, huh?!

Begin threading elastic through the casing.
Don't pull it all the way through;
stop when the back end is lined up with the edge of the casing

Admire the frog your 5 yr old is so proud of.

sew back and forth a few times
1/8" or so from the edge,
securing that elastic - you don't want it going anywhere!
Pull elastic all the way through and secure.
Do the same to the other front/back.
it's really taking shape ~ good job!
Cut your FOE, using your shoulder/underarm measurement
again, remembering seam allowances.
With right sides together, sew, then trim off corners

Fold your sewn FOE in half, then in half again
and mark the 'quarter' points.
In the above picture, the left side will be your shoulder
the pins will line up with the tops of the dress
and the seam - on the right of picture - will be the underarm.
You might want to do a quick zigzag along the underarm seam
to keep both layers of fabric together
and keep if from fraying as you apply the FOE.
Oh, that sweet babe is just being so good!
Stop and enjoy her for a few minutes.
Folding the FOE, so that it encloses the fabric,
pin it on, lining it up as described above.

Begin sewing at the top of dress.
Make sure that your needle is going through both sides of FOE.
(see here for a great tutorial on applying FOE)
a zig zag is best for sewing this part;
you can switch to a straight stitch if you want to
when you get back around to the strap section.
you'll probably really need to s t r e t c h that FOE!

almost done.
If your machine sews a stretch stitch
you might want to use it on the strap section.

She can't wait to try it on!

so pretty!
okay, let's turn it around and try the other side

and she's off

oh, she's back.
Now she'll see how the other side fits.

and she will do it by her self!


One more little tip:
You might want to ascertain if there is an 'up' to your fabric
before you cut & sew.
Unless you like butterflies
flying upside down.
just a note about the FOE:
The plush (wider) FOE is preferrable for this project
to the 'shiny' (skinnier) FOE.
You could also use double fold bias tape instead of the FOE;
just gather your dress at the underarm before sewing on the tape.
The shoulder strap won't be nealy as soft
and, obviously, it won't stretch any,
but if you don't have any FOE, bias tape will work just fine.

I probably managed to make it seem difficult,
but this dress really is easy to make.
I made this one in an hour and twenty minutes
including taking pictures as I went
(believe it or not - I deleted a ton!)
and tearing out that one seam
and I am not a speedy seamstress!
Please send me a link to a picture if you make this
I'd love to see your creations!


  1. AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! Hurray! I was going to e-mail you about this today. What a fun, fun, fun surprise! Thank you so, so, so, so, so much! I'm going to link to you on this one of course!

  2. What a wonderful tutorial, Tracy! I love how you included your role as a mommy while you were sewing, like taking care of the kids and admiring your son's frog. (Your baby is adorable!)

    I'd love to try this for my two girls (3 1/2 and 2)!

    Thanks so much for putting this together for us.

  3. Amazing tute! You should do more! I'm linking!

  4. I saw your dh and little bit with this very dress on last night at Walmart. Very cute. Sandy had told me you were sewing up a storm. I am going to make Joelle one today! Thanks for cutting trail.

    you should sell these on etsy.



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