Quick galactic summer dress tutorial

So here we have another tutorial!

This time it is to make a really quick and easy summer dress - sewing time approximately 1-2 hours start to finish. At that rate you can make a whole collection of them to take on holiday!

These dresses are super stretchy, made from soft jersey and perfect for hot weather. They also take up very little room when packing to go away. Very handy indeed.

You will need:

An existing stretch dress/vest top/t-shirt
Tracing/pattern/baking paper
Approx 1-1.5 meters of stretch fabric (pre-washed for shrinkage)

Step 1 - Create your pattern

Take your existing vest top and lay it out onto the paper you will use for making your pattern. Some people use proper pattern paper, I happen to prefer Baking Paper - cheap and just as good! You can either trace around the whole shirt, or fold it in half and trace one side. Tracing one side means you get a nice even pattern, symmetrical for cutting your fabric. Trace around the edge ensuring that you have left enough room for seam allowance (about 1.5cm extra).To make a dress from a vest top, extend downwards allowing enough room for hips and keep going until you reach your desired length of dress. Sketch in the neckline you would like.
Trace a top
Step 2 - Cut out your pattern

This pattern piece can be used for both front and back if your neckline will be the same on both sides. Make any alterations you feel necessary. I like V-back dresses so I made 2 pattern pieces. 1 round neck for the front and an extended V for the back.
Either use 1 pattern piece for both front or back

or create 2 if neckline will be different!
 Step 3 - Cutting out

So here you need to take your stretchy (pre-washed!) fabric - check the direction of stretch! The most stretch needs to go across your body (not down it) so ensure you lay the fabric out with the stretch width-ways. Fold it in half, right sides facing and pin on your pattern. (The picture is for demonstration - in reality as my fabric was so wide I managed to get both halves on one side of fabric, cutting the whole thing out in one go!)
Pin on your patter for cutting
Cut those bad boys out

1 front 1 back all done!

 Step 4 - Pin together and sew

The easy bit. Put your pieces right sides facing and pin the hell out of it. Right down each side and across the shoulder seams. Get sewing! I have gone straight for the overlocker here - perfect for knit fabric. If you don't have one don't panic, a zig zag stitch will work just as well (you could even get fancy and use a twin needle - recommended for sewing knit fabrics).



 Step 5 - Try it on

Now is a good time to try it on for size. Depending on how stretchy your new fabric is compared to the one you traced, you may find you need to make some adjustment. Put the dress on inside out and if any bits need changing, just pin it on yourself in order to take in or reshape the side seams. (Or get someone else to help!) You may also wish to change the neckline now if its sitting too high. Snip it into the shape you want (but don't forget it will be hemmed and lose another cm - so don't go too low! - Unless you like that kind of thing of course ;-)

Step 6 - Hem all the edges

If you are happy with the fit, hem the dress! For the arm holes and neckline you can stretch bias binding, make your own binding or simply just neaten the edges with a zip-zag stitch and fold over. Turn up the hem and stitch everything in place! (I have used a straight stitch for the arm and neck - and a zig zag for the hem - the zig zag avoids puckering and wavy edges).
Pin/hem the edges

Sew them down!

 Step 7 - Try it on again!

Make some last minute adjustments if you want. I changed my mind about a round neck and pinched it in, forming a little V with pleats. The back was also gaping a bit so I sewed that up a few cm to solve the problem.
Changing the neckline

Step 8 - Iron it then wear it

If anyone makes one of these do share you pictures! Facebook, Twitter and Comments :-)

Simple Skirts Tutorial

Hello again :-)

My pal had asked some time ago about the possibility of a skirt made from the ladybird fabric seen in my other post.

The skirt is a really simple elastic waist version and so a little tutorial is in store!

You will need:
  • 2 rectangles of fabric
  • Thick elastic (I think this one is 4 inches wide - found on eBay)
  • Pins
  • Thread

Step 1 - Cut your rectangles

Take your hip measurement and divide by 2. Then add a couple of inches to this figure to ensure the skirt gets a bit of shape to it and fits over the hips comfortably. This figure is the width of your fabric rectangle. Then decide your length to whatever you fancy. This one is just on the knee. The length of the skirt will be the length of the fabric rectangle (don't forget to add an inch for a hem :-)

Step 2 - Attach rectangles together and hem

Sew up both sides of the rectangles to form a tube of material. Neaten the bottom edge (serger, zig zag stitch or simply pinking shears to stop fraying), fold up and hem.

Sew side seams

Neaten and hem bottom edge
Step 3 - Neaten top edges

Neaten the top edge of the skirt tube if necessary (I didn't bother as my top edge was made of the already neatened end of the fabric roll!)

Step 4 - Cut the elastic

Take your elastic and fit it around your waist, ensuring it pulls a little to fit snuggly. Cut the required length of elastic. (If you want to do this numerically, take your waist measurement and subtract 2 inches for negative-ease (ie stretch factor!))


Step 5 - Sew the elastic

Sew the ends of the elastic together to form another tube.

Step 6 - Mark the elastic and fabric with pins

Mark both the elastic and skirt with pins, in quarters all the way around. (4 pins each). You have to eventually get a long piece of skirt fabric to attach to a short bit of elastic, the easiest way to guide this is to mark with pins the matching points to attach.

 Step 7 - Pin the elastic to the fabric

Match the pins up and attach the elastic to the skirt. The seam in the elastic should be at the centre back of the skirt. Feel free to break the quarters down further and do some extra pinning - the more pins the easier the sewing will be! The idea is that when you hold 2 of the pins and stretch the elastic, the elastic and fabric will be the same size and fit nicely onto each other.

Pinned at equal spaces

Pulled taut
Pin pin pin!

Step 8 - Sew the elastic to the fabric

The slightly trickier part. Secure the skirt and elastic under the needle with a couple of stitches. Now select a ZIGZAG stitch on the machine. Pull the elastic as you sew, so that it is taut against the fabric. Keep going, section by section, taking your time on this bit. (The more you pinned earlier, the easier this bit will be!) - (You need a zig zag stitch as this allows for stretching on your finished skirt.)

Secure fabric under the needle

Pull fabric tight as you sew
All sewn up with zig zag stitch
Step 9 - Wear your skirt!

Turn it inside out and you have a skirt to give to your mate! (Whether she wants one or not - it is about 4 months since she asked after all ;-)

If anyone decides to give this a go, please do share your pics! (See facebook page, twitter and comments :-)

Let there be ladybirds!

This is the first bit of clothing I've made in ages. I bought this ladybird fabric some time ago with plans of a shirt dress however it caused some controversy about whether someone now in their thirties should actually be wearing ladybird print... Screw that I like ladybirds, and this is bright and summery, making a freshing change from my usual black wardrobe!

The pattern is self-drafted from scratch some time ago and I've used it countless times! I think I have at least 4 versions of this same dress. They do all look different thanks to fabric pattern, textures, lengths and embellishments which just goes to show how versatile having a well fitting go-to pattern can be.

It is a shirt dress pattern but as I'm not a fan of buttons as closures (sit down and flash everyone through the gaps between buttons) I stitched up securely up the front and put in a long concealed zip down the left side. I had attached a collar originally but felt like Harry Hill so that quickly got unpicked! The hot day also swung the vote in just having nothing around the neck, much cooler.

I was a bit hesitant in putting my face on this photo as I have crazy 'dried naturally in the sun and went weird' hair and no make-up on. That and I'm usually too vain to like any pictures of myself so tend to go for the 'cropped head' approach, but my cousin said I looked like my mum in this pic, and well as she was a fab lady that is a lovely thought indeed so I'll be brave and the pic can stay.

No need to hide! How to insert a concealed zip

Hello all!

So I've decided to make a return to sewing and blogging after a rather epic break, and what better way to start up the posts again, than with a tutorial! I hope this one will be very helpful to everyone out there - do let me know how you get on.

For some reason people seem to be scared of zips - there really is no need, they are fantastically fun little beasties and despite the teeth - don't bite ;-) I am a massive zip addict.

There are many different ways of inserting zips depending on what you are using them for, but today we're dealing with the elusive concealed or hidden zip. These are fab for skirts and dresses where you don't want any obvious closures/openings to be apparent. The garment will just look like it has seams, all nice and smooth... Concealed zips come in all sizes and colours and they are the ones with no teeth showing, they just look like a strip of tape with a pull tab at the top. I will use contrasting zip and thread to demonstrate where to sew.

Concealed zip
Step 1 - Lay out the pieces

Unlike sewing a seam where you put your fabric together right sides facing, we will be working with the fabric the right way round. The print/good side facing you. Lay out the pieces and zip to see what you are doing.

Step 2 - Pin on the zip

All you need to do know is flip the zip over so the back faces you. Unzip it all the way down. Place the right hand edge of the zip (now upside down) onto the right hand edge of your pattern piece and pin it in place. I tend to mark where stitching will finish with a pin going across the zip. Mark this point about 1cm above where the end of the zip/pull tab now lies.

Step 3 - Stabilise the zip

Ignore this step at your peril!! You now need to take your zipper foot and attach it to your machine. (A zipper foot allows you get get up close and tight to the edge of the zipper teeth for a nice straight line). Sew the tape to the fabric piece BUT just sew straight down the tape, no need to be neat or close to the teeth at this point, this line of stitching is merely for holding the zip in place. If you miss this step out you may find the next step very difficult as the zip will wiggle around all over the show!
Zipper foot

Sew straight down the zip tape, no need to be neat!

Zip is now firmly attached to fabric
 Step 4 - Conceal the zip

Now your zip is secured into place where it needs to be, we can attach it properly for the 'concealment' to occur. Go back to the top of the zip and get it secured under the needle with a few stitches. Now you're ready to go. A concealed zip has teeth which curl under the tape. You need to peel back the tape with your nail or finger to reveal a little sewing channel. Keeping a finger pressing the zip tape back revealing the channel, sew a line all the down to the bottom, being careful not to catch the teeth themselves. Your zipper foot allows you to get right in there.

Press back the teeth to reveal the sewing channel
Sew in the channel
Step 5 - Check it worked!

Trim the loose threads and flip the fabric over. Voila! One side of the zip is complete and can't be seen behind the fabric!

Step 6 - Attach the other side

Now repeat on the other side. Flip the zip again so it's back faces you and attach the far left to the far left of your next fabric piece. Pin, switch sides on your zipper foot, sew the stabilising line and then sew the concealment line. Turn the fabric over and you can now see the zip is in place and not visible from the right side!
Now do the other side - left side to left side
Swap sides on the zipper foot

Zip it up!
Step 7 - Finish the seam

Fold the pieces together, right sides facing as if you would for any seam. There is now a line of stitching where your zip is. Continue from this line to pin the rest of the seam together. Keeping your zipper foot on, stitch the seam from where the zip stitch line ends, to the end of your garment seam. Open the seam up and you're done!

Step 8 - Done!

Flip your garment over to try and admire your handy work...zip....what zip?? :-)

Let me know if this was of any use at all, happy zipping!