Saturday, February 9, 2019

Dress 12 - Sunny Sky

Today, I used one of my commercial patterns to make a dress.  Using two fabrics donated by Nancy S., this bright yellow reminds me of the sun in a blue sky.

Dress twelve will be for an older girl.  I wanted one with a fuller skirt to provide better movement for a young lady.  I chose this simple pattern from the Butterick line, called See &Sew.  It is made especially for new sewers.

From start to finish, it took a little over two hours.

I used pattern group 6-7-8.  I cut out the pattern to the size 8. There are only a few pattern pieces:  The skirt, yoke front, yoke back and ties.  The finished dress measured 32 inches from yoke to hem.

The skirt was cut twice on the fold.   To save fabric, I folded over only the amount needed to fit the pattern piece.  That left a wider piece that can be used for another project.   Casey, my sewing buddy, let me use his cat food cans as pattern weights.

The skirt portion was the only part that needed French seams.  After I sewed the side seams, I hemmed the skirt. Then I put gathering stitches around the waist edge.

Next I cut the yoke pieces, two fronts and two backs, on the fold and the two strap pieces.  The only alteration I did was to add about an inch and a half to the strap length.  I sewed the front and back pieces together at the side seams, and did the same to the facing pieces.  The straps took the longest.  You need to turn them inside out, and my fingers were not cooperating today.  I finally finished with the help of a long, skinny screwdriver.  I sewed the straps to the edge of the yoke front.

Next, I sewed the facing, right sides together, to the yoke, keeping the straps clear. I turned the yoke right side out, and ironed down.   I finished it with a top stitch close to the edge.

Next, I attached the skirt to the yoke.  I lined up the points and side seams, and gathered equally around.  Make sure you leave the lining free. The edge of the lining is folded under, covering the raw edges of the seam. Iron, sew down, and I am done!  Here is the basic dress, before I added trim.

I recently received some trim donation from Val L. It came in handy today.  I picked a turquoise blue rick rack and added it to the yoke.   I made two pockets from the sunny yellow, and added the same rick rack to them. Finally, I sewed large pink buttons to the pockets, and three smaller ones to the front of the yoke.  When I sewed the pockets to the skirt, I measured 8 inches up from the hem, and made sure to center the pockets evenly from the side seams.

Add the DAG tag to the hem, and all done!   Here it is:

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Dresses 8, 9, 10 and 11 - Sweetheart Stripes

Dresses eight through eleven are called Sweetheart Stripes, with fabric again provided by Monica.   I would like to share her website with you, The Fabric Bird Link   She has a lot of wonderful fabrics for sale, take a look.

She sent me two yards of this adorable double border print. 
The first thing I did, was cut the fabric into 4 pieces, each with a bordered edge.  The pieces measured approximately 36 inches wide and 22 inches long.  According to the DAG chart, this would allow me to make four size 3-4 dresses.
I decided not to add any contrast color to the hem as this pattern is busy enough with all the stripes.  Since these are small dresses, one six inch pocket is fine.  The best and quickest way to make these dresses is by assembly line.

After ironing, I hemmed all the dresses.  Next I sewed up all the backs with French seams.

I chose a green floral print to make the pockets, since I didn't make a contrast color band around the bottom.  I trimmed with pink rick rack and a pale green button.   Here I gathered all my supplies and cut the trim, elastic and bias tape ties.


I found a great template for pockets.  You will need to buy chocolate and eat it all first.  Yum!  Its Merci chocolate, and comes in a flat 6 1/4 inch square box.  After consuming all the chocolate (remember, its for a good cause), cut the front or the back off.  Its a perfect size!

Next I cut all the armholes using the "small" template.   I turned
down and ironed all 8 casings, and inserted the elastic, front and back.  I made sure to sew over the elastic several times at each end to prevent it from coming loose.

Next, were the bias tape ties.  I used light pink for two, and a darker pink for the other two.  Finally, I sewed on the pockets, lining them up with the pink heart row near the bottom.   Don't forget to add your DAG tag!  I put mine on the opposite side from the pocket, near the hem.

Here they all are, hanging from my china cabinet.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Dresses 6 and 7 - Hangin' Around

Dresses six and seven are called "Hangin' Around".  I received this fabric from Ambassador Monica.
It's the name of the print, designed by Alexander Henry. Animal prints are my favorites for younger girls.  I wanted to make two dresses from this because I love it so much. I received one yard, so I cut it in half.   To each 18 inch long piece, I added some solid rusty color fabric I had in my stash to the bottom for contrast, and to make it longer.

Adding the extra at the bottom makes these dresses between a size five and six on the chart.  I used the medium armhole template, and cut 36 inch ties of bias tape for each side.

At our local Walmart, the sewing section carries "fat quarters" for 97 cents. These pieces are generally meant for quilting, but they are perfect for pockets and other accents such as a yoke or hem contrast.  Fat quarters are made by taking one yard of fabric, cutting in half lengthwise, and then in half width-wise. The dimensions are approximately 18" x 21" or 22" (depending on fabric width).

For these dresses, I used a fat quarter for the pockets.  After lining with cotton and turning, I added white cotton trim across the top.  I measured about 8 inches up from the bottom, then measured equal distance from the center front, where I thought it worked best.

I like the way this tiger is leaning against the pocket. 

Here are a few pictures of the finished dresses.  I live in a concrete condominium, so no pretty backgrounds for photos.   I need to find a better place to take them 😁

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Dresses 3, 4 and 5 - Cherry Red

In my previous post, I called my dresses "Pink Elephants on Parade".   Naming dresses is kind of a tradition among my historical costuming friends.   We name our Victorian gowns after colors, animals, food, etc.  The minute I saw the cute line of elephants, I immediately thought of the song from Disney's Dumbo   song video here 

These dresses I call "Cherry Red" from a 1966 song I like.  I have some left over cherry fabric from a blouse I made.  Paired with a cute red with tiny white dots fabric, I made coordinating dresses, big sister/two little sisters.

Dresses Three and Four 

I really wanted to make these about size 7 or 8, but didn't have enough to make them longer, unless I made only one dress.  They are about a size 5/6 according to the DAG chart.   The bias tape length is 36 inches.  I bought two packs of red bias tape, 3 yards to a pack.  This will get you three dresses worth of ties.  Its a good idea to always buy two packs of each color so you are not left with an odd yard of bias tape left over.

The cherry fabric used is the full width, 44 inches.  I added the red to the bottom to make it longer, and it hits about 25 inches long.  I cut the front and back elastic to 7 inches. 

***Divide and reduce pleating method.  Sometimes its difficult to tell how much fabric you need to pleat and attach.  This is the method I use.  First, lay your main fabric out flat and measure.  Then, depending on how full you want your pleats, cut the length of the pleat fabric anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times the length of your main fabric piece.  (In my case, I was using left over fabric, so did not have a choice how long to cut the pleat fabric, and worked with what I had.)

Hem the pleat fabric.   Now, pin the hemmed pleat fabric to each end of the main fabric.  Your pleat fabric will be a lot longer, and hang loose in the middle.   Find the center of the main fabric and put a pin there.  Do the same with the pleat fabric. Pin them together.  Now, start dividing.  From the center pin on either side, find the middle between the center and edge and pin again.  Keep doing this until you have several equally spaced loops that look like this:

Now, figure out how many pleats you can fit in one section, and all the rest should be the same.   I use French seams, and the pleats went right into it with no problem.

To the right is step 1 of the French seam - sew wrong sides together about 1/4 inch.  Press closed, right sides together, encasing raw edges.  Sew second seam 3/8-1/2 inch to secure raw edges inside. Open and press flat.

Pockets.   This time I tried sewing the pockets on before closing up the back.  On the smaller dresses its hard to sew the pocket on because you have to bunch up the back when its already sewn together.  For this size 5/6, I measured eight inches up from the bottom.  Then I found the center line and spaced the pockets equally apart from the center, then sewed them on the flat dress.   MUCH easier!

The pockets are different on each dress so they wouldn't be exactly the same.  Now, a confession....I am going to start putting the DAG tag over the ugliest corner of the pocket! 😜

Helpful Hint:   Use upholstery thread to attach buttons. They will never come off!

Dress Five

Using the yard I had left of the red with tiny white dots,  I made a larger dress.  I added the last of my cherry print around the bottom, and for the pockets.   I tried to break up the red with wide eyelet lace on the pockets. 

I went to Michael's and got some mixed craft buttons to attach as decoration, and also ordered some on Amazon. I topped off the larger dress with heart buttons on the pocket corners and a big red button in the middle.

This is a size 9 on the DAG chart.  Its about 33 inches long, and I used 36 inch ties and 8 inches front and back elastic.

Here they are!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

My First Dress - Pink Elephants on Parade

For my first (and second) dress, I will be using some adorable Elephant print fabric that Ambassador Monica sent me.  I want to stretch it for two dresses, so I am using a coordinating fabric for the lower half of each dress.  I will use the basic Dress a Girl pattern until I gather some commercial patterns.
  There are You Tube videos on how to make one.  Here is a good one:       This is the basic DAG dress.   I would do a few things differently, such as making the pocket a bit sturdier by sewing the two square layers together and turning inside out so the seams are finished, before sewing to the dress.   Pockets are made for stuffing with treasures, and I fear only a pinked edge may tear more easily.

I used this handy-dandy chart from the Dress a Girl website.  It has all the measurements you might need to make the no-pattern dress.  In my own opinion, I think after size 5, the full width of the fabric should be used.  For  sizes 6 months to a smaller 5, use chart measurements.  For sizes 10-11-12, if you are using 42"-44" fabric, put a 3 inch kick pleat or open slit on the back seam. For wider fabric, its not required.  Also on the website, is a great armhole template.  I printed it, made sure the measurements were correct, and taped to cardboard before I cut it out.


The first thing I did was to cut the the width to the size 5 on the chart.  I added an inch extra to the width and length.  Then, because it was not long enough, I chose a complementary fabric and added it to the bottom.

All seams are to be finished by using a serger, or a close zig zag stitch, or a French seam.  As I want the dresses to be durable, I choose to use a French seam.  Not sure how to do a French seam?  Its easy!

First, sew your seam with the wrong sides together, 1/4 inch.  Your right sides will look like this, with the seam on the front side of the dress.

 Iron the seam front sides together, so the seam is enclosed.  Now sew the seam again about 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch, which traps the first seam inside.   You now have a sturdy, double sewn, encased edge.
Outside seam
Inside seam

Step Two.   The back seam, which I also did as a French seam.   Iron the dress flat, centering the back seam down the middle.

Step Three.   Time to cut the armholes.  With the dress flat and seam centered down the back, fold the dress lengthwise.  As in the below photo, you will have one fold down the center, and the other side is the two sides on their folds.

Using the template for size 5, cut out the armholes on the two folded sides.

Unfold the dress flat again, and there are your two armholes.

Step Four.  Front and back elastic.  Using the chart, cut 2 lengths of  1/2 inch wide elastic to size.  For my size 5 dress, I am cutting the elastic to 7 inches.  Next, make your elastic casings.  There are several ways to do this.  You can make a fold over and stitch casing with one row of stitching.  You can do it with two rows of stitching (top and bottom) which controls the gathers a bit more, or you can do two rows of stitching, starting about an inch or so down from the top, to make a ruffled look above the elastic.

For these two dresses, I am doing the controlled gathers.  Fold down the two top pieces 1/4 inch, then fold again about an inch.  Iron and pin. Sew the two rows of stitching.

Put your elastic on the end of a safety pin, and thread through the casing.  Sew the ends back
and forth several times to secure.

Step Five.  Hem your dress! Make sure you turn under 1/4 inch, and then again to your desired length.  The dresses will not need deep hems, they cannot be altered to let the hem down later.

Step Six.   Making pockets.   The pockets should be no smaller than 6 inches square finished.   You may put one or two on your dresses.  I cut my squares 6 1/2 inches, 1 of  fabric and 1 of lining.  You should add your trim to the pocket before sewing on to the dress, it makes it a lot easier!  I found out  the hard way with this dress.   I was under the weather when I made the dress, and did it without trim.  Then when I felt better, I added trim after.  It was hard for me to sew the trim on the pocket without catching the dress fabric too.  From now on, I will decorate first 😊

Pockets need to be sturdy so little hands or treasures can't tear them. Sew your squares with right sides together on three sides.  Turn right side out and press.

 For the top edge, I  folded and ironed a 1/4 inch, folded again, and sewed it down.   After trimming, place your pocket or pockets on the dress where you think best, and sew it, making sure to go over each corner a few times so it won't rip off.

Step Seven.   Adding the ties.  Ties are made from double wide, double fold bias tape.  You can buy prepackaged, or make your own.  Again, refer to the chart for the size needed.   For my size 5 dress, I cut two lengths of 34 inches.  Pin the middle of bias tape to the middle of the armhole and enclose the raw edges.  Starting in the middle or at the end, sew your tape from end to end.  Don't forget to tuck in the ends of your tape and sew closed.

Step Eight.  Adding trim.   Below is a picture of the dress before I added my trim.  You may add cotton lace, buttons, embroidery, whatever you want, as long as its washable and sturdy.  No craft polyester lace!  You can add your trim as you go, or add it after, whatever your preference is. Its probably best to decorate the pocket before attaching, which I will do in the future.

Step Nine.    Add the official Dress a Girl Around the World label!  Put it on the pocket or the hem or wherever else you think best on the front of the dress.

Before Trimming


 Here they are, all finished!  Its raining outside, so these are not the best inside photos.