Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tank Dress Tutorial

The main idea with these dresses is that you can repurpose tanks and tees that are too short, have a stain, etc. With the version in this tutorial, you can even make use of that extra 1/4 of a yard of fabric you have left over from some other project. Did I do that? Of course not:) I ordered fun fabric, scoured the town for just the right tank, and picked out the perfect complementary fabric. But, the point COULD do it the greener more frugal way!

Now on to the tutorial...

If you are one of those people who needs a pattern piece to trace and exact measurements before you start cutting, you can just stop reading right now. That's not the way I operate, and it surely isn't the way this tutorial is written...Sorry! But, if you can roll with it and are comfortable with ball-park measurements, then read on for a super-simple outline of how to create your own cutie-pie dress. Basic sewing knowledge is helpful with this tutorial. I didn't write out every minute detail. If you've never sewn before and want more details just let me know and I will be happy to create a more detailed tutorial with pics:)

1. Select your tank/tee. Try it on!!!! Then mark where you want the skirt to be attached. You can have it high like an empire waist, at the natural waist, or even low like a drop waist...totally up to you. Add 1/2 an inch to the length of the tee for seam allowance, draw a line across the tee, and cut off the bottom.

2. Try it on again. Measure from the bottom of the tee to the point where you want the skirt to hit on your leg (or your child's leg). If you're planning to add a ruffle, then measure to where you want the main section of the skirt to hit (about 3 inches above the bottom of the skirt). Add 1 inch to the measurement for seam allowances. This new number will be the length of skirt you need to cut. Let's pretend you want the skirt to be 14 inches long plus a 3 inch ruffle. Add an inch to the 14 and you will need to cut 15 inches of fabric for the skirt.

3. You will use pretty much the entire width of the fabric for kid-sized skirts regardless of size. Cut the length you measured in step 2. Our pretend skirt is now 15 inches long by 44 inches wide (you used the entire width of fabric, remember?). At this point you can adjust how puffy the skirt will be by trimming the width of the skirt. If you want it to really puff out then use the full 44 inches. Want it a little less puffy? Cut a few inches off. I cut about 3 inches off the width of the cow fabric for the skirt in the picture. [Adult-size skirts may need to be wider than 44'll need to cut two pieces and combine them to get the flounce you want.]

4. Fold the skirt in half with right sides together. Sew the short ends together and reinforce with a tight zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. You now have a giant tube. If you are not adding a ruffle, then you will need to hem the bottom of the skirt at this point.

5. Ruffle - Cut two strips of fabric that are 44 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. Sew the ends of the two strips right sides together to create another giant tube of fabric. Hem the ruffle.

6. Gathering - Using the longest stitch length on your machine, sew around the top of the skirt. Then sew around the top of the ruffle. DO NOT BACKSTITCH OR OVERLAP STITCHES. Pull the top thread of the ruffle to gather it. You want to make it the same size as the bottom of your skirt. Do not gather the skirt yet!

7. Sew the top edge of the ruffle to the bottom edge of the skirt with right sides together. Reinforce raw edges with tight zagzag stitch. (If you own a serger, I am assuming you aren't still reading this tutorial, but obviously you could serge all these raw edges too.)

8. Gather the top edge of the skirt until it is the same size as the bottom edge of the tank/tee. Sew the skirt to the tee with right sides together. Finish raw edges with a tight zigzag stitch.

9. Top-Stitching - I like to topstitch my ruffles so they lay better. To do this, flip the ruffle down and run a straight seam on the top side of the skirt, approximately 1/8 inch above the skirt/ruffle seam. Do not do this on the tank or you will have stretch problems when you try to put it on.

A NOTE ABOUT GENERAL MEASUREMENTS: The skirt is about twice as wide as the tank/tee. The ruffle is about twice as wide as the skirt. That's how you get the flounce. Adjust the ratio for more or less flounce.

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