Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Party Dress (From an Old Skirt)

My two younger kids, who care nothing about what they wear, both ended up with christmas outfits this year.  It was totally by default; collected from hand-me-downs or last years clearences that are now fitting. My oldest LOVES clothes.  I could shop for her even more than I could shop for myself {and i LOVE shopping for myself}.  Alas, i am trying to be really good over the holidays at not overspend, and she really doesnt need a dress, she has plenty, but my heart tells me that she NEEDS a Christmas dress, because she is the one that really wants one.  So, my gears start churning and i think, how can i get her a dress and not spend a dime.  Do we have anything that fits that has velvet or sparkles? 

Aha!  It came to me as my daughter was digging in a bin looking for something and she found a red skirt of mine i bought at Bannana Republic a while ago.  I hadn't worn it in at least a couple of seasons, and it was RED!  The perfect start.  I told her i would make her a skirt out of it {she always loves getting clothes made out of my clothes, I think because she likes trying on all my clothes when she is in my room, so having something she can actually wear out of my room makes her feel like we share clothes :)} and she said she wanted a dress.  I wasn't sure if i would have enough material there for a dress, but i told her i would try.

While she was at school i started (and by the time she got home it was ready to try on, with only the straps and the sash left to finish {and she's only gone for half the day}).  Whenever I am making something from another article of clothing i always try to use as many of the original hems, seams, zippers, etc. to cut out the hard part for myself, and because they usually do a better job than I.  I finished that dress up so quick, and it is by far the CUTEST dress i have made!  I had really low expectations so maybe that helps in the joy of the finished product, but it really was a synch, and it's got all the fun, fanciness of a wonderful holiday party dress. 

Here's How I Did It:

I always start by taking measurements of who i am doing the dress for.  {you would think by now I would have them stashed somehwere, but kids grow up so fast, why not just do it everytime!}  I had a design in my head, and i had to tweak it to fit the material i had.  I laid the skirt on the ground inside out and using her chest measurements (and allowing an extra inch or so for seam allowances, i snipped from the top of the skirt the exess on either side of the skirt. (this skirt has a zipper, and i wanted to keep that centered so i had to divide the extra width by 2 and take of a bit on each side.  I went down to where her natural waist would be (for me that was 8 inches, and then stopped cutting.  Took a straight edge and from that point i made a diagonal line to the bottom of the skirt, so i could have the bottom be as full as the skirt would allow.  I took a pencil and traced the line on both sides, then continued to cut off the exess.  The skirt was now 2 pieces of a dress, and i sewed them together from top to bottom, backstitching at either end for a nice secure hold.  Since the fabric i cut off was not enough to make straps i went through my ribbon bin and found some wide groisgrain ribbon that was just the right shade of red, and sewed those in place for the straps. 

Now, a spaghetti strap dress is no good in the winter, as cute as it may be, so i needed something else, so digging through the fabric bins i found some great faux raw silk chocolate brown material, and a 6 in spool of chocolate brown tulle.  I knew the tulle had to be sticking out the bottom of the dress.  So i did a basting or gathering stitch down the center of the tulle that i measured 4X the bottom circumfrence of the dress, and folded it along the stitch and gathered it to the right length.  I then sewed that to the bottom of the dress along the seam that was already there for the hem, making sure it was sticking out of the bottom of the dress.

With the raw silk remnants i made a ruffled shrug, and a sash with a rosette for a fancy touch on the sash.  I ironed the sash the width i wanted and handstitched it and the rosette onto the dress while i was watchinging our latest netflix movie, but it could also be done on the machine. 

For the Shrug:

Here are what the pieces looked like that you need.  You need two sleeves and two front pieces, make sure if you are using fabric that has a front and a back that the 2nd front piece is flopped from this one shown so that you will have two curved fronts to match either side of the shrug.  You only need one back piece. I used a sweater of my daughters that had raglan sleeves for my measurements.   It is a raglan sleeve shrug rather than an inset sleeve, raglan are much easier, especially when you are doing sleeves without a pattern.  If you have never done this before, i would try it on some scrap fabric first so you can see just how it turns out in case you want to tweak it, and make the sleeves longer or the body of the shrug longer.  Once you know what pieces go where and how they fit together it is much easier to design them to what you want. 

Take one of the sleeve pieces and stitch the diagonal line from the back piece to one of the diagonal sides of the sleeve, and then on the other diagonal side of the sleeve stitch the diagonal line from the front piece.  Do the same on the other side. The top of each sleeve on a raglan forms part of the neckline.  After the diagonals are stitched then just under the arms and down the sides need to be sewn, of course with a shrug that is only about 3 inches of stitching.  Make sure it is inside out when you sew.  Then turn it right sides and you've got this (this is the front of the jacket, you may need to zoom to see the front panels, the fabric makes it hard to tell in pictures):

Now from here and you could put a binding or hem all the raw edges but i folded some fabric over and with a basting stitch made a ruffle.

 Then i stitched it to all the raw edges and ironed the seams really well after so they lay down nice and flat.  And Voila, a cute little shrug in about 30 min! 


Matt and Adge said...

WHOA!! Camille and I are sitting here in awe. How do you do that from an old skirt? I guess you just explained that...but really, how do you come up with these things?? amazing!

Jen said...

I love it!! it came out soooo cute. love the blog

the landreths said...

That really is such a great dress. I have loved reading all your posts. It almost makes me think i could do some of this stuff.

Cindy said...

Wowza! I am just loving her new Christmas dress! You are so talented!