(I’m the wost model ever, I can’t smile on cue or pose w/o looking like a fool, but it’s about the dress right?)
This post is a part of Hideous Dreadful Stinky’s Summer of No Pants series. For those of you who don’t know what that is Marigold over at HDS hosted this great series last year where she had all kinds of contributors share skirt and dress posts in hopes that it would help her stay away from frumpy shorts during the summer.
In addition to great tutorials and articles, SONP includes a challenge where anyone can enter their skirt or dress creations into a flickr pool for us all to share ideas and help give ourselves a deadline for making skirts and dresses for ourselves. For more info on the challenge see this post. I’m trilled to be a part of this year’s SONP if you’re visiting from HDS’s, welcome it’s great to have you! Feel free to peek around. You can see some of my reader’s favorite posts in my sidebar to the right.
Today I’m going to share how to change a normal knit top and some fabric into a cute and comfy dress. This is the perfect project to use on that top that’s shrunk up over the years or to make the most out of the tops that haven’t seen your body in ages. Even if you don’t have any disposable shirts on hand you can run over to lots of stores and pick up a top from between 3-10 bucks so this can be a nice inexpensive project. This took me about an hour and a half but I sew all day everyday so I tend to sew a lot faster than the average person.
What you need
- knit top (like a tank or tee)
- 1.5 yards of skirt fabric
- 1.5 yards of lining fabric (optional but you’ll want the extra layer if your skirt fabric isn’t very thick. I used muslin)
- Crochet thread (optional, read my gathering technique below and see if you want to do it this way)
note: If you want a longer skirt you might want to buy more fabric so read through my directions and see my note about dress length at the bottom before you start.
(click on the photo to enlarge or go to my flickr to see more pictures and individual shots of each step)
What to do
- Cut your fabric down the fold (lengthwise, parallel to the salvage end, you know the fold that is there in the fabric when you buy it) You should have 4 pieces of fabric about 22″ x 54″ each (read my note below about making the dress longer)
- Decide how long you want the bodice part on your shirt to be and cut any extra off the bottom. I cut mine to 16 inches (shoulder to bottom and I’m 5’5).
- Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and lay the top on the top of the folded fabric.
- Cut a diagonal from about half an inch outside of the top to the edge of the fabric stack.
- With right sides together sew the skirt pieces together on each diagonal, serge or finish the edge on the sewing machine to minimize unraveling. Do the same for the lining.
- Cut the bottom of the lining skirt so it is 3 inches shorter than the main fabric skirt.
- Pin the skirt to the lining with the seams of both facing in.
- Gather the top edge of the skirt. I love gathering by using a crochet thread and zig zagging across the thread (not sewing on the crochet thread) and when you’re done you just pull the crochet thread. But feel free to gather how ever your comfortable (for example with basting stitches). Click here for a tutorial of my gathering trick with lots of pictures.
- Pin the bottom edge of the top to the the skirt top edge right sides together And sew together. Finish the edge.
- Now you should have a basic dress. Try it on and see if you like the length cut off some length if you want it shorter.
- Next make the sash. Cut two 5 inch strips from the fabric across the width of the fabric. You should have two 5x 44 (or whatever length fabric you bought) strips
- Measure from your side to your other side. Cut one of the strips to this size. Cut the other strip in half. (at this step I had one 16 inch strip and two 22 inch strips).
- Sew each of the longer (22 inch) strips to the custom sized strip. So you should have a long strip with a smaller chuck in the middle
- Fold the strip in half lengthwise and sew one short edge and the long edge. Inside out the tube and iron.
- Fold in the open short edge and sew closed.
- Finish the hem. I just did a rolled edge on my serger because I’m lazy like that but feel free to do whatever hem you like keeping in mind this will take away some length.
- Look at your accomplishment with pride. Put it on and hit the town.
A note about dress length
I’m 5’5″ and you see how long it is on me that is with a 16 inch top, rolled edge hem and about 0.5 inches taken away when I connected the top to the skirt and another 0.5 taken when I rolled the edge and my fabric was 44″ wide. I didn’t really pick the dress length. I knew that 21″ was within my normal skirt length range from a higher waist so to conserve fabric I went with it.
For a longer dress: if you want your skirt longer than 21″ (keeping in mind it’s probably going to be a higher waist) you’ll want to buy double the fabric and cut the pieces down to 54X by however long you want the skirt part. Another way to make it longer is to leave the top longer but of course this will adjust where the waist hits you.
I’d love to hear and see pics if you try my tute out so let me know. I’d love to post your pics if you send me some. And if you have any questions please ask in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’ve got a few variations for this dress planned so if you’re not already a follower I’d love you to follow so you don’t miss them. Oh and be sure to check out all the other awesome SONP11 posts over at Hideous Dreadful Stinky.