I was honored to be asked by Melissa of Melly Sews to be part of her Summer Sundress Series. There were so many awesome dresses, and I am in full sewing mode this month!
This post is my contribution to the series.
When I sew, I find I am more inspired by fabric then by a pattern or tutorial. I see a fabric (or fabrics) I like, and think "that would make a great_____________". Is that weird? (Don't tell me if I'm a freak). Anyway, I was in the fabric store when i saw this beautiful bundle of pastel fabrics, and I immediately thought "that would make a great strip-pieced skirt or dress!" I made this one last year for my daughter, but I wanted something a little more fitted, and the spring-y colors perfectly fit the vision that was forming in my head. So,without further ado, I present:
Materials needed: (This is for a size 5/6 girl. You will only need to adjust the length of your strips for whatever size you make).
Fabric- bear with me here: I used a fat quarter bundle (found in fabric stores or online). You could also use a jelly roll (also found in stores or online) if you like narrrower strips, or simply buy 1/4 yard of each fabric you want to use. So, your yardage will vary depending on how wide you want your strips and how many different fabrics you want.
1 old (or cheap) tank top- a great way to recycle a too-short top or something with a stain on the lower part.
1-2 yards of trim- optional again, this will vary depending on the size of your dress.
Sewing supplies- sewing machine, coordinating thread, scissors or rotary cutter and board, pins, etc.
Difficulty level: Beginner
Time to complete: 2-3 hours, more if you have small children that interrupt your sewing time :)
** Note**- use 1/2 inch seams unless otherwise noted.
Let's get started!
1. Choose your fabric. Make sure it is prewashed and ironed. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! If you don't prewash it, it will shrink, and your strips of fabric will pull apart at the seams. Trust me. I know.
2. Lay out your tank top and determine how much of it you want to keep. I wanted the "skirt" portion of the dress to fall right about at my daughter's natural waist, but you could do an empire waist, too. I measured 4 inches from the armpit on each side, then added 1/2 inch for seam allowance. Do this for each side, then cut your shirt to desired length.
3. Set the shirt aside. Now, take some time to determine how wide and long you want your strips to be (mine are 4 inches wide and 18 1/2 inches long), how full you want your skirt to be (mine will be only slighly fuller than a straight skirt), and the order you want your pieces to fall. This is all personal preference. You really can do it however you want.
I decided to use 5 fabrics, and because I wanted a narrower, almost straight dress, I used each fabric twice.
If you want a fuller skirt, you will either need to use more fabrics or repeat them more.
As far as length, the fat quarters were the perfect length for what I wanted. (about 18 inches). This will make the strips fall from my daughter's natural waist to just around her knee. Find your length (from "waist" of dress to desired length), add 1/2 inch for seam allowance (and 1/2 inch for a hem, if you won't be using trim on the bottom), then trim your strips as needed.
4. Now comes the easy part-- sewing strips together. Place first two fabrics right sides together, pin along the long edge, and sew. I didn't do this because I am lazy, but you can finish off your seams with pinking shears or with an overlock stitch to avoid fraying or uncomfortable rubbing.
|here are my first two pieces, right sides together.|
5. Add the next fabric, again, placing right sides together, pin and sew the long edge together. Press your seam allowance to the same side as your previous one and finish if desired.
Continue until you have your first set of fabrics sewn together.
7. I find it easiest to manage all the stripes by sewing them in separate panels. Since I chose five fabrics and wanted to repeat them once, I sewed two panels of five strips each. I hope that makes sense. If you want a fuller skirt, you might have three panels, each with five strips.
Once you have all your panels sewn, it's time to join them together. Since I only had two panels, I laid one on top of the other, right sides together. I then pinned and sewed up each long side.
If you have more than two panels, you will only sew along one side.
Open it up, press flat, and get ready to add your next panel.
Place the third panel on top of your second panel, right sides together. Pin and sew.
Open it up and press flat.You should now have a long row of three panels sewn together.
Make it into a circle by bringing the long sides together, right sides together. Pin and sew. You should now have a big circle.
8. I thought the dress needed a little something more, so I purchased some trim-by-the-yard and cut it to fit the circumference of my skirt. I needed about a yard. If you don't want to add trim, simply hem the bottom of your skirt by pressing the raw edge up 1/4 inch, then rolling over another 1/4 inch and sewing in place.
If you are adding trim, simply insert the raw edge at the bottom of the dress in between the folds of the trim, kind of like bias tape. Pin in place.
Sew in place. I placed one seam right along the edge of the trim, then sewed another seam 1/4 inch to the side. This simply reinforces the seam so your fabric stays put.
9. I'm so sorry I didn't take pictures of this, but the final step is to sew the skirt to your tank top. To do this, you will have to gather your skirt- either a little or a lot, depending on how full your skirt is.
Sew a basting stitch along the top of your skirt at a 3/8 inch seam, leaving the ends long.
Pin your skirt to the bottom of your tank top, right sides together, at the side seams.
Pull gathering threads until your skirt fits into the tank top. Even out gathers and pin in place.
Sew the skirt and top together at 1/2 inch, then turn right side out.
For more help in gathering, go here.
10. You can be done right here and have a really cute dress! I wanted to add a few details (after the fact). I added a band at the waistline to cover the warped stretching that sometimes occurs when you sew knits on a regular sewing machine.
If you'd like to make one, here's what I did.
Meausure the circumference of the dress where you want your band to be. Cut a fabric strip to that size, plus 1/2 inch for hemming.
Determine the width you'd like and add 1/2 inch.
Fold over long edges (top and bottom of band)1/4 inch and press in place. Repeat with short edges.
Pin to dress with right side of fabric facing up and sew as close to the top and bottom of the band as possible.
11. I also wanted a little something at the neckline, so I added this little bow.
Here's how I made it:
Cut off a strip of fabric from the unwanted part of your tank top.
Grasp each end of your strip and pull until it starts to stretch and roll.
Tie it in a bow.
Attach it to the front of your dress with a needle and thread.
Okay, now we're really done. I promise. Here's your sweet little sundress!
Can you tell it was cold outside when I made her take these pictures?
Well, it was cold for Phoenix. I think it was in the 60's and windy. We're thin-blooded around here.
The things we do for blogs......but she sure loves her dress!
I hope directions are clear. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email me!
Have a great weekend!