Pin #5: Dressing Up- You CAN make your own dress!

I love to wear dresses, which is strange since I think I had only worn them to funerals and school dances before I became a teacher.  But, just because I’m a teacher who wears a lot of dresses does not mean they are jean jumpers with embroidered school houses on them.  I can give you a long explanation of why I choose to wear dresses many days of professional work week, but simply put, I don’t like to wear to pants.  It does however, cause a similar problem that I hear people who wear scrubs to work have: if you don’t ever wear pants that fit- you don’t know how fat you’re getting!  With that danger in mind, I still love to sport a long flowing dress to the classroom!

Dresses can be expensive and I am too cheap to spend more than $15 on a dress, ever.  I don’t sew my own dresses, for the same reason I don’t ever make any of my own clothes: it’s hard and expensive.  To buy all the fabric and notions needed for a cute dress would be far over my $15 budget and I probably won’t be proud to wear a garment with a wonky collar & floppy facing. So when I saw this pin come across the page, I was excited to give it a try.  Simply purchase a tank and 2 yards of fabric (I needed a ‘lil more than instructed because of the aforementioned waistline) and some elastic thread if you don’t already have some.  VOILA! A super cute little dress that works for casual summer affairs or “pro-it-up” with a cardigan.  I do have a few suggestions for making this dress:

1. BUYING FABRIC:  This is the worst part of sewing projects for me. A store full of brightly colored bolts of fabric contains for too many possibilties for me, and I may or may not have a had a panic attack or 2 at FM Store in past visits.  I have learned my lesson to not go in without a plan.  Since I was making a dress for myself, I kept my eyes open for large prints in 1-2 colors.  It’s tempting to look for what’s cute- but its important to look at the fabric like each bolt is an actual dress not just the print.  Patterns that are too small can be overwhelming to look at when being worn although may be adorable on the roll. 

2. CUTTING THE BODICE: Bodice is a fancy word for the “top” in the sewing world, and once you cut the tank top there is no going back.  Make sure you measure how much you want to cut from the BOTTOM hem, not how much you want to keep from the top.  Pin the tank closed at the hem, matching the edges and cut how much you want to take off- subtracting 5/8″ to that measurement.  My students often cut things for how long they WANT them to be in the end, and forget to measure what they want to keep and how much will be the seam allowance.  This mistake could make the bodice too short and you’ve wasted a perfectly good tank.  After you cut, fold the tank in half and mark the middle front and middle back.  Take the extra minute to do this, you will thank me.

3. FITTING THE SKIRT: As mentioned for the tank, take the time to mark the top of the skirts front middle and sides (the back middle is the seam). Skip the step in the tutorial that tells you to sew a long stitch around the fabric with elastic thread.  It does gather the fabric, but not enough to match the marks you’ve made on the tank and skirt easily.  Go ahead and leave your regular thread in the machine and baste around the top.  THEN, match the marks you made on the tank and skirt.  This sounds like extra work, but I ended up having to go back and do this because I didn’t know where to match the two pieces together.  These small steps will save a headache.  After you match the MARKS, GATHER the basting stitch to make the skirt fit the tank. This worked MUCH better!  Now, you can sew them together with the elastic thread.

This project was easy and I was really happy with the end result!  And since it ended up costing me exactly $15 to make, I would call it a success!  I didn’t want to post an awkward picture of myself wearing the dress, so here is a cute one of me and my girls before I wore it to church! P.S. Don’t go for the floor length, it’s bulky like a sack of taters!  A 2″ hem under the knee was perfect for me!


June 25, 2012. Fashion.

One Comment

  1. immeasurablyloved replied:

    Super cute, Courtney!

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