Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Nap-Time Maxi Dress

Since this week is a recovery week for running, I took advantage of some "down" time and brought out my long lost friend and did some sewing! A few months ago I bought some fabric to make the girls coordinating maxi dresses for our upcoming trip to Cabo. All you have to do is Google "maxi dress tutorial" and you'll get a ton of results. I looked at a few and took bits and pieces from a each to make up my own "pattern." Since I was kinda making it up as I went along I wanted to do a trial run first. It was super-duper quick to make, it only took about an hour from start to finish. 

It's looking a little nightgown-esk for my taste, but with a few minor adjustments it's going to be the perfect maxi dress.
In the tutorial below I will show what I did in BLACK text, the RED text is any changes I plan to make on the dresses for Cabo. Feel free to shout out any suggestions or tips in the comment section yourself! (I also want to appologize for the tutorial pictures! It was a dreary day and the lighting was just awful!)

Here's what you need:
  • Old T-shirt - The perfect shirt is one that fits in the arms and upper chest area but is too short. Of course you can go out a buy a new one, but's it's always nice to reuse one you already have. Knit is best. Noa's shirt was more of an a-line/tunic style. Next time I would use a more straight-lined shirt. 
  • Fabric - For my practice fabric I let Noa pick out her favorite from the crafty closet. For their dresses for our trip I bought a nice light-weight, flowy fabric. You just want to make sure it's not too heavy or it will just pull on the knit top. 
First you want to cut off the bottom of your shirt. I measured from the under-arm area and left about 2 inches.
Then I measured the width of the shirt (from armpit to armpit) and multiplied it by 1.5. The length of the front of my shirt was a little over 12 inches. 12 x 1.5 = 18. This will be the width of your fabric panels. This was not enough fabric to give my dresses the flowy feel I was hoping for. Next time I will at least double the width.
After determine the width of each panel I needed to figure out how long I wanted it to be. I measured from Noa's armpit to where I wanted the dress to fall and subtracted the 2 inches that were left on her shirt. (I was planning on using the original edging of the fabric as the hem to avoid having to make a hem. If you are going to hem your dress just remember to add in about 1 1/2 inches to account for that adjustment.) Now you want to cut out TWO panels with the width and length you just calculated. Place them right sides together and sew up the sides.
I really wanted this to be a quick project so I didn't even bust out my serger. I just used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine and "serged" the edges old school!
At this point you should have a tube of fabric. 
Now you need to gather your fabric. For help with how to do a gathering stitch you can go {HERE}. Pull your threads until the fabric is the same circumference as your shirt.
Turn your shirt inside out and with right-sides facing, line up the edges.
Make sure to line up the seams on your shirt with the seams on your skirt.
Stitch all away around. Use a zig-zag stitch or serger to finish your edges. Turn right-side-out and bask in the glory of making a dress in under an hour!
As soon as the last stitch was in, the Lil' Monkey was adamant that she get to try on her new dress!
It's good for playing in the garden...

 ...and twirling...
...and smelling the flowers along the way...
She has declared it her new favorite dress and is wearing it today! I love that she loves it so much! She's already going through her old shirts looking for more that I can turn into dresses. 

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