Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sundress How To

Sundress How To
The Dress I DIDN'T Wear to the Wedding...

This pattern is deceptively easy.
I, however; still managed to muck it up part way through... so I've decided I need to invest in this lovely dress form I found here: courtesy of a tip from Mr. Neal Taflinger (who, incidentally you should already be checking out both Here: and in person at Homespun - the lovely new store in Irvington where I could easily drop entire paychecks...)

So... in this blog-to...please do as I say and not as I did...and perhaps your sundress will turn out a tad more precisely...with a little less eyeballing-the-proportions.

Step One: Material Girl
Me? Oh I just used this lovely lightweight suiting that I found on super clearance at JoAnn Fabric. I tend to shy away from Jerseys even though they're super comfy, because I can never quite get my cuts and hems exact. In any case...find something lightweight, this IS a sundress after all. For the edging I used a nice not-totally-contrasting pretty little cherry blossom pattern that I had some scraps of lying about.

Step Two: Measure Twice...Cut Once!
See? Do as I say. Not as I do.
Fold your material over and use a butcher paper pattern (measured and constructed for one quarter your waist circumference for the front of the skirt...and one quarter + a generous few inches for the back of the skirt). And, before you cut...add an additional inch to each...for seam allowances! [Remember...we're folding the material to cut it. Hence, only the quarter circumference. Still with me? Good.] *NOTE. I happen to like a fuller skirt. So rather than a perfect rectangle, I made my pattern a trapezoid. Sundresses = breezy, fun, and twirly!

Step Three: Bodicea
Set aside your skirt pieces... we'll deal with those in a minute, but first, the bodice!
I sort of just haphazardly eyeballed this...which is where I went wrong... so don't do that, okay? You'll need two (eventually overlapping) triangle pieces for the front of your bodice and one rectangle about 6-8 inches high and the length of your back skirt piece. [insert the bit about measurements here]

Step Four:Press and Hem
Let me just go ahead and say it. I HATE pressing my hems. AND my seams for that matter. BUT it happens to really I continue to do it.
So, give yourself a good one-inch hem [because I happen to think a nice thick hem looks pretty on a dress). Measure, pin, and press. You'll want to go ahead and do this to the bottom of both skirts, and the top of your back bodice piece. But don't bother with the front bodice pieces, we're going to edge those in another material. No need to double up on our work!

Step Five: The Skirt
Match your outsides together and stitch those skirt pieces into a tube. Turn it Rightside Out & press your hems down all nice and neat and pretty. Hopefully that's all we really need to say here.

Step Five: The Back Bodice.
Take your Back Bodice piece and match it Rightside to Rightside with your Back Skirt piece. Stitch these pieces together. Then fold up and press your hem. Now isn't that smart? We're making progress.

Step Six: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
You thought we forgot about the Front Bodice, didn't you? Silly you.
Take your two triangles, and lay them out overlapped. Decide which side (left or right) you want on top. we'll need to edge them both in our contrasting material (which, again, we're first going to need to press & pin. ugh.) I used scraps about 6" and 9" long for the longest edge of the Front Bodice.
Fold your pressed material over the bodice triangles and pin into place. Be sure that you have a nice crisp, freshly pressed edge showing. (So, essentially you've folded this piece of fabric into thirds, one third falling behind the bodice and two-thirds, folded under on itself showing in front of the bodice). Stitch the edging on and remove you pins. Press one more time for good measure...we don't want it to look bulky!

Step Seven: Attaching your Front Bodice
Again, Rightside to Rightside, pin the front bodice to the top front of your skirt. Pin & attach the under-half first! Once both triangles have been attached, tack a few stitches, either by hand or on the machine, to firmly attach Triangle one to Triangle two. We don't want any gaps or wardrobe malfunctions if at all possible... Now Turn & Press!

Step Eight: The Straps
I used a bit more of what scrap material I had on hand here and cut six haphazard strips of about 10 inches in length. I braided three strips together and secured each with a few stitches by hand at top and bottom to secure my braid. To attach each strap, I simply handstitched the straps to both the top point of the Front Bodice and a point about three & a half inches measured in from either outside edge of the Back Skirt.

If you have not significantly altered your pattern or decided to eyeball your should have one completed, perfectly wearable sundress! At this point you may do any (or none of) the following:

1. Appliqué. With a bit more of that scrap material you could easily appliqué a few cherry blossom branches along the hem...

2. Trim below the bodice. I opted to add a bit of my scrap material just under where I attached my bodice. This bit of deco. helps to hide any unsightly stitches that may be showing (ahem. not that I had any of those...). It also perks the dress up a bit.

3. Add a sash. I found some fantastic little scarves at Forever21 (you know.that store that carries every accessory I never knew I always wanted so I could wear it once and then lose it on the dance floor?) for $4.00. I very nearly wrapped the cream, fringed scarf under the bodice and tied it in back. The same effect could be attained with some wide silk ribbon, etc.

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