Wednesday, 10 August 2011

My take on the traditional 'pillowcase' dress

After the first disaster of a tad-too-tight pillowcase dress design I decided to go it alone & make my own.  This is what I came up with, with a little help from Ergonomics-bollocks Hootchie.

First cut out a template pattern for the 3 pieces you need – a rectangle for the dress bottom & dress bodice and a facing piece for the arm holes.  To cut the arm hole I measured 3 inches across & down from one corner & drew a rough arc joining these points.
Bodice - 7.5x9 inches Bottom- 9.5x9 inches & facing

The facing pattern piece is made using the dress bodice arm cut out as a guide.

Then cut 2 each of the bottom & bodice pieces for the dress front & back in coordinating fabrics.

Cut 2 pieces of the facing in the same fabric as the bodice piece, placing one edge of the facing template on the fabric fold.

Pin front bottom & bodice fabrics together right sides facing & straight stitch along edge. Finish seam using a zigzag stitch or cut with pinking shears.  Repeat to make the back of the dress.  Pin front & back pieces of dress together, right sides facing & stitch together at sides, taking care to match up points at the side of the dress where the different fabrics meet.

Now, all of the other instructions I found for making this type of dress spoke of using bias binding to add support to the arm holes.  I don't have bias binding & didn't want to go out to get any, so I phoned the sewing guru, Ergonomics-bollocks Hootchie for an alternative plan, & this is what she told me.

I had to adapt her oh-so-clever plan a little bit to fit the gathered design of the dress I had in mind, but essentially it is the same.

So, after cutting and opening out each facing piece, finish the lower edge with a small zig zag stitch.  Then pin each facing piece to dress, right sides together, matching the centre point of the facing to the side seam of the dress.  Straight stitch in place along top edge.


Open out dress and iron seam flat. Then turn facing to inside & iron along seam. Secure facing to inside of dress with a few hand sewn stitches at the underarm seam.

Make a 'tube' for the ribbon at the top of the dress by turning over 0.5cm, press, then turn over another 1.5cm, press and then stitch close to the lower edge.

Finish hem of dress in the same way as by turning over 0.5cm, press.  Turn over another 1.5cm & press again.  Straight stitch. 

Use a safety pin to thread your chosen ribbon through the front and back tubes of the dress, either using one long ribbon so you end up tying over one shoulder only, or a separate ribbon for front & back.  Gather up the dress fabric.  

Try the dress on for size & secure the ribbon with a few stitches in at least one or two spots once you have worked out the length you need (to make sure they don't come out in the wash).  
Essentially that is it if you are happy with a basic pillowcase type dress.  But I found the dress a little tent-like, so decided to add a few more touches.

I measured approx 6 inches from either front side seam, folded the fabric under 1 inch and secured these 'tucks' in place with a few stitches.

You could leave the back of the dress as is, use the same 'tuck' method as you did on the front, or make a single gather by pulling together fabric from either end and securing together:

To finish this dress I made 3 coordinating Suffolk puffs and hand stitched in place.  All done!

Monday, 8 August 2011

A 'case' for action

We have been using cloth nappies with Little Imp since soon after she was born, and the elastic has now begun to go in the legs.   
That means leaking.
That means more washing.                                                                                                                                                                 One clever hootchie suggested replacing the elastic & the thrifty me thought that was a great idea….until the enthusiasm well and truly wore off and I had only re-elasticised about 6 of the 20 nappies we have. In a moment of clarity I realised I could get brand new ones off ebay for less than $5 each and sew something far more exciting with the time I’d save.  Not exactly environmentally friendly, but at the time it was justification enough for me!

I had seen some ‘pillowcase’ dresses on the internet & used the dimensions from the prudent baby blog to make my first version.  Turns out Little Imp either doesn’t fit their dimensions or has got a bit chubbier than I thought! Decided I needed to come up with my own variation of the pillowcase design.