Summer Song Sun Dresses

Posted by administrator on Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Summer Song Sundress
Course Instructor: Melissa Stramel
Lilac Lane
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Depending on the child's size, you will need varying amounts of fabric. Up to size
3T, you will only need 5/8 yard of the main fabric. For size 4T to 7, 1 1/2 yards
will be necessary. An adult's dress required 2 yards.
1/2 yard contrast fabric for bias tape
1/2 yard contrast fabric for ruffle (1/4 yard for 3T and smaller)
1/4 yard contrast fabric for pockets
fun trim if desired, I used 2 yards of Riley Blake pompoms
matching thread

Sewing Instructions:

1. Today I'm going to show you how to make a cute child's sundress from an existing
dress. The first thing you need to do is choose a dress that fits well. It's best if
it's not too, too full. And if it had sleeves, pin those into the dress so that the
outline is a sleeveless dress.
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2. Fold your fabric in half, allowing for the desired amount of flair.  Fold the
dress in half along the side seams. We will cut out the back of our sundress first.
Place the fold in the dress along the fold in the fabric and cut out, allowing
between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch extra for seam allowance on the sides, but not on the
top and bottom. Keep in mind that we will be adding a ruffle, so it will be 2-4
inches longer when finished.
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3. You should have a piece that looks something like this.
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4. Now using the back of the sundress as a template, cut out the front of the dress.
Instead of curving around the intricacies of the pattern, just gradually angle in
and leave quite wide across the top.
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5. Notice the curve across the top of your original dress.
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6. Replicate this curve across the top of your sundress. Be careful not to make the
cut too deep or the dress may be gappy and revealing. The design of this dress will
naturally give the neckline some curve, so a shallower cut will suffice.
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7. We will now start working on the pockets. Take a piece of contrasting fabric
about 6" x 9" to 7" by 10". 
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8. Fold the fabric in half.
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9. And then in half the other way so that you have a small rectangle.
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10. Cutting across the smaller fold seam, make a curve up to the other side. Make
sure you just cut across the bottom (smaller) fold seam and the other fold is left
in place.
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11. Open the fabric and you should have two matching pockets.
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12. While you're at it, go ahead and use the pocket as a template for the pocket
lining and cut two of those.
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13. Now lay the pompom trim across the fabric about an inch down from the top and
pin in place.
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14. It will be easier to work with the pompoms if you sew them across both pockets
in a chain. Just leave one pompom between the two pockets and cut it off after you
sew across both pockets.
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15. Now place a piece of lining on top of the right side of your pocket (the side
you sewed the pompoms to) and sew around all the sides except to leave a small
opening for turning the pocket right sides out. Use 1/4" seam. Clip the corners
after sewing. Also cut to but not through the seam on the rounded corners in about
three places. This will help the pocket curve a little bit better.
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16. Turn right-sides-out and poke out the corners of the pockets with something like
a pencil or a dull pair of scissors. Be careful not to cut your fabric!
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17.  Carefully press the pocket and tuck in the seam where you left an opening for
turning. Pin the seam shut.
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18. Determine where the first pocket will be placed. This should be somewhere in the
lower half of one side of the dress. I would say about 2/3 of the way down the
dress, but this depends on how long you make your dress. Pin in place and then
topstitch 1/8" around three sides, all but the top.
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19. Now place the second pocket right on top of the first one, right sides together.
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20. Fold the dress in half and sandwich the two pockets in between.
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21. Pin through the dress layers making sure to just catch the second pocket. Open
up and you have a perfectly matched pocket.  Pin all around the pocket on the front
side and remove the pins you placed in the back.
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22. Set your machine to its longest stitch length and stitch across the top of the
front of the sundress. Sew 1/4" from the edge.  For me, this setting is 5 and it is
known as a basting stitch or gathering stitch. Leave a few inches of thread from
each end.
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23. Pull it up into gathers but gently tugging on the bobbin threads. Gather it to
about the same size as the back of the dress. Then stitch right across your
gathering stitches with a regular stitch length to secure them in place. Now match
the bottom of the armhole openings for the dress front and back and pin down the
rest of the dress. Do this with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other. If
your length is off, don't worry. You can straighten it up after you sew both sides
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24. We will now learn how to make a French seam. This is a nice seam for a little
girl's dress because they are often sensitive to a zigzag seam and this seam
absolutely will not fray. Sew a 1/4" seam down both sides. Because these weren't cut
from a pattern, they may be a bit wonky. After sewing the seam, cut down to between
1/8" and 1/4" so that everything is even and the seam is very narrow.

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25. Now turn the dress inside out, and pin down both seams again. Sew between 1/4"
and 1/2" down this seam. Don't vary it, just pick a width. 3/8" would be good.
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26. Congrats! You just make a French seam. That wasn't very hard, was it?

27. Now time to  make some bias tape. Of course you could always buy bias tape, but
this is easy and so fun to coordinate. Choose a contrasting fabric and cut out a
square. For a 3T I used a 17 inch square and for a 6 I used a 24 inch square. These
sizes will make a piece of bias tape that is long enough to not have to piece it
together. There will be lots of scraps but I bet you can come up with some good uses
for those. Taking your square, cut a diagonal from corner to corner and then cut 2"
from that diagonal line on each side. You will have two long pieces of bias tape.
You need to cut two more shorter pieces as well.
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28. Take each bias tape strip and press the raw edges evenly into the center of the
strip. In other words, you are folding it in half by way of moving the raw edges
into the center. Then press in half so that the two folded edges line up.
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29. I'm going to teach you the easiest way I know of to sew on bias tape. Starting
with one of the short strips, open it up and line up the raw edge with the wrong
side of the raw edge of the neckline (front or back.) Pin in place.
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30. Now stitch right down the pressed fold line.
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31.  Now bringing the bias tape to the right side of the sundress, stitch so that
you cover your stitch line from the back, as close to the edge as possible. Trim the
extra bias tape off of each end.
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32. Repeat steps 29-31 for the front or the back, whichever you haven't done yet.
33. Fold one of the long strips of bias tape in half lengthwise to find the center.
Pin this point to the armhole seam in the same way as you did in step 29. Stitch
down the fold line just as you did in step 30, leaving a tail on each end of the
armhole which will become the ties of our sundress.
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34. We will now pull the tape around to the front of the armhole just like in step
31. Starting at the end of one tail, edgestitch across the folded end. When you
reach the armhole, keep stitching as close to the edge as possible and then on down
the other tail until you have stitched across that end. Repeat for the other
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35. It's time to try it on for size, so get the child to model for you a little bit
so you can decide how long to make your ruffle. If the dress is the right length,
you probably want a pretty short ruffle, maybe 3 inches. If it's a bit short, maybe
a longer ruffle, possibly 5 inches or more, is in order. Of course this all depends
on the size of dress you're making. For my 3T dress, I made a 4" ruffle and for my
size 6 dress, I made a 5" ruffle.
36. Measure the length of the bottom of the dress. My 3T dress was 23 inches across
the bottom. Taking this measurement times 2 to account for the front and back gave
me 46 inches. A ruffle should be about 2 times the length, so we need approximately
90 inches or 2 cuts across the width of the contrasting fabric. My size 6 dress used
3 cuts across the width. Sew these together to make one long strip and finish the
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37. It's time to hem the ruffle by pressing up 1/4 inch twice down the length of the
ruffle and stitching about 1/4 inch from the edge.
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38. Gather the top of the ruffle just as you did for the neckline earlier and then
adjust the size of your ruffle to the size of the bottom of your skirt, in this case
46 inches. Then sew the ruffle into a circle and finish with a zigzag or overlock.
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39. Pin the ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, right sides together and sew together
with a 1/4 inch seam. Zigzag or overlock the edges to finish.
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40. Press the seam up so that it is against the skirt. Then taking your pompom trim,
sew it just above the hem line to hold the overlocked seam from above in place.
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41. If you would like to make a tie, use 4 inches by enough length to make a nice
bow. In this case, for a skinny 4 year old who wear a size 6, I used 60 inches.
Press the edges in 1/4 inch all the way around, press in half and then topstitch
around the entire length.
42. Yippee! You did it! I loved this fabric so much, I made a coordinating dress for
myself, following the same guidelines. I'd love to see what you come up with. Join
the Lilac Lane flickr pool to show me yours.

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