Refashion: Men’s Shirt to Toddler Dress

In November I’m running a course called Upcycle: Sustainable Fashion; it’s all about refashioning textiles into something new. So recently I’ve been sewing up some ideas to bring with me. Here’s one!
A men’s shirt – which most people have lying around – to a girl’s dress.
My inspiration hunt began at Pinterest, and I found a nice tutorial so I actually just used that instead of my own brain… here’s the link to it!

I began with a lovely lilac shirt – not too masculine!

shirt to dress refashion

As per the tutorial and using a dress that fits Little A as a guide, I chopped the shirt up as shown in the photo below, unpicking the chest pocket also. I discarded the rectangle in the middle and the shoulders pieces, and only kept the upper part of the sleeve.

shirt to dress refashion

This is where my in-progress photos ended; but I basically followed the tutorial linked above. It took about an hour in total.

Here’s the finished dress!

shirt to dress refashion

Cute or what?!

Having used this as a practice-run, I then made a dress out of a little girl’s Dad’s old military shirt, as a commission. This is before…

shirt to dress refashion

I made it in a very similar way – I just also had to move some of the Velcro, unpick the zip that was in the way, and unpick the pockets on the sleeves. It was fun! And everyone apparently loved it!

shirt to dress refashion

shirt to dress refashion

Let me know if you have made or do go on to make something similar!

Beth x

 

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse *Tutorial*

I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it. I have a soft spot for peter pan collars! And I’m happy to say I also love the finished garment now I’ve sewn one up!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

It has a beautiful slightly large peter pan collar, slightly capped sleeves, and buttons down the back. There aren’t any darts to get flummoxed over; it’s quite a straightforward pattern. With this tutorial we’ll have you sewing one up for yourself in no time!

simple-sew-peter-pan-blouse-tutorial

I made a size 8, and needed less than 1m of fabric (Liberty cotton lawn, which I recommend due to the lovely drape).

First off, trace and cut your pattern pieces; there are just three! (Yes, I took a gamble and cut down to a size 8; I actually NEVER usually cut patterns but I was too excited!!)

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

With your fabric on the fold, cut your pieces as follows: top front cut one on the fold, top back cut two, collar cut four. (I cut two collar pieces, then removed the collar piece; pinned and cut two more).

Iron interfacing on to the wrong sides of two collar pieces (these will be on the reverse/underside of the collar). Pick an interfacing that is the same or lighter weight than your fabric (I used a lightweight one).

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

With right sides together, sew around the outside edges of each pair of collar pieces with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving the inner curve open. Clip and trim the edges; or cheat and use pinking shears!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Turn right side out and give each piece a really good press, rolling the seams slightly to the underside (which is the interfaced side). Set these aside.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Sew your top pieces together at the shoulders (two back pieces to the shoulders of the front piece) right sides together, with a 1cm seam allowance. Finish these seams in your desired way (I overcast them) and press either open or towards the back.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Lay the top right side up. Mark the centre front of the top. Place the collar pieces right side up (interfaced sides down) on top, matching raw edges. You want the collar to meet in the middle and slightly overlap about 1cm; this is so that when you sew the collar to the top with your 1cm seam allowance the collar will meet exactly in the middle – without crossing over and without having too much or a gap.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Pin in place and tack.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Sew the back pieces to the front piece at the sides. (With right sides together, so straight down with a 1cm seam allowance. Finish the seams in your desired way.)

Now you’re going to hem the sides of the back pieces. Fold and press over 5mm, then to the notch (20mm). Sew close to the inner folded edge.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Hem the bottom of the top (you can do this last but I just did it at this point as the fabric was fraying!) Turn the hem up 5mm then 1cm and sew close to the inner fold.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Now, bias binding. Make some or buy some! I made some 1” wide single fold (you could go smaller). In hindsight I should have made it in the same fabric, but I didn’t want to cut diagonally into it and waste it!!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Sew bias binding round the neckline, using a 1cm seam allowance, right sides together.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

When you get to the ends, tuck the ends of the bias binding in to create neat ends – and sew right to the edge.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Trim the curves, and cut notches. Or cheat and use pinking shears like me.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Flip the bias binding to the wrong side of the top, keeping the other edge of it folded. Sew close to that fold. This hides entire bias binding underneath the top. You could sew it so that it shows around the edge; like I did with the armholes. It’s personal preference.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Sew bias binding to the armholes in a similar way. Leave a gap of a few inches and a few inches of bias binding either side, so that you can join it in the middle. It’s really difficult for me to describe how to do this in text – if you need any help with bias binding there are some good videos on YouTube!!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Now, I tried to sew this bias binding the same way as I did the neckline but it didn’t work; it would have created too many puckers. So I sewed it so that the bias binding was folded a further time, then I handstitched it in place on the inside. This is where I wanted bias binding of the same fabric as the white doesn’t work very well… oh well, it could be worse!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Now on to the buttonholes. Mark these on to the left side of the back piece – starting 5mm from the top, and 1” in. Mark them every 10cm. Sew the buttonholes with your machine.

Use a pen or pin to mark through the centre of each buttonhole; this will be where you sew your buttons.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Sew your buttons on. I used some vintage buttons I’ve had stashed for far too long. They’re mismatched but I love them!

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Give it all a good press… and that’s it!!

Any questions, do ask.

Now here are a few more photos of my blouse. It’s sooo comfy, I really do love it.

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse
Beth x

 

Jeans Refashion Tutorial: Patchwork Dungarees

My little girl has recently become rather obsessed with Bob the Builder. So, sewing mum that I am, I naturally thought I’d make her some “Bob the Builder” dungarees. AKA denim dungarees, that she can wear as normal dungarees, not just for dress up!
I won’t keep you in suspense; here’s the outcome:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Pretty cool, eh?! I won’t lie: I LOVE them.

I’ve written a quick tutorial for you in case you want to do something similar. The same principal (patchwork denim) can be used for any clothing, too – not just toddler dungarees. Skirts, dresses; adults or kids. The possibilities are endless.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Those of you who have been following me for a while will likely know that I’m keen on refashioning and upcycling. In fact I’m starting 5-week-long refashioning courses in November (alongside my dressmaking). So partly spurred on by that and the need for more examples, I decided to upcycle some old jeans that have been hanging around. Who needs to buy new denim?
So I used these two pairs; one was in fact my mum’s, and one was mine. Both much loved and a little worse for wear.

jeans>dungarees refashionI used all I could of these two pairs, plus a little bit of denim I had in my scrap bag (that would’ve been from another pair of jeans). With the addition of just a couple of buttons (and thread) that of course I already had, this was a really frugal make.

Now on to the tutorial… 🙂

refashion jeans to dungarees

Begin by cutting up the jeans; cut along the seams, discarding the bulky seams. Incorporate the back pockets if you like, and save the tops of the jeans for another project!

jeans>dungarees refashion

For these dungarees I used a pattern which I highly recommend: Vintie Overalls by Tadah Patterns. But you can use any pattern you already have, or create your own. You will need to use the pattern piece to help you with the placement of your denim pieces. This pattern has four large pieces (2 x back, 2 x front) and some top yoke pieces. I patched the large pieces.

So lay out a pattern piece, and (ideally using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat) chop up your long legs of denim into squares and rectangles, creating a patchwork. Ensure you overlap each piece by the seam allowance you wish to use. Take your time and thought to try to lay the colours out in a way that’s pleasing to the eye. It’s interesting how many different shades of blue are in a single pair of jeans!

jeans>dungarees refashion

It’s fine to have some fabric sticking off the edges; in fact, that’ll be helpful just in case you need a bit more allowance than you initially think.

Once your pattern piece is entirely covered up, it’s time to sew.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the sewing stage! But you will basically sew all the pieces together as if making a patchwork quilt. I sewed then overlocked the seams as I went along.

Once you’ve done all your pieces, you’ll end up with something like this:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Nice!

Now, place the pattern pieces on top, and neatly cut – as you would if that was just regular non-patchy fabric underneath!

jeans>dungarees refashion

There we go; nice and neat.

And then just take the extra bits for the yokes and straps (if you’re making kid’s clothing there’s probably no need to patch these unless you really want to; they’ll be big enough). And sew together the dungarees according to the pattern instructions. Sorry, I’m not going to tell you how to do that – you’ll have to buy the pattern!

jeans>dungarees refashion

If you do make something like this, I’d LOVE to see it. Any questions, do ask in the comments below!

And if not – I hope you enjoyed the post regardless.

Beth x

 

Simple Sew English Tea Dress *Cap Sleeves Tutorial*

Recently I joined forces with a few other bloggers to make up a blogging team for Simple Sew patterns. How exciting! I will be sharing some tutorials for their patterns. I hope that you will find them useful!

First up what do you think of the fabric I chose?

Art Gallery fabric (Whitetree)

Beautiful, right? It’s called ‘Wild and Free Luminous Field’ – from Whitetree Fabrics. Click the logo below to be taken to the page on their website to buy!

White-tree-logo Master

Now on to the tutorial. I’m just going to share the cap sleeves part today – I will share photos of the entire finished dress ASAP. Head over to Laura After Midnight’s blog if you want a detailed tutorial of the whole dress – minus the cap sleeves!

There are no instructions for the cap sleeves in the pattern. So this is the way that I did it – I am sure there are more ways to insert them; in fact I came up with a few – but this is my preferred method. Please READ THROUGH all the instructions before starting! If you are stumped by anything, just leave a comment and I will help!

You will be using the sleeve type marked ‘Option C’ on the pattern paper. If tracing, ensure that you mark the notch, and where the gathering marks are.

Simple Sew cap sleeves pattern piece

Then cut the sleeves out of your fabric, transferring the marks as well. I use a pen to make a little dash where the wiggly gather symbol starts and ends; that’s all you need.

Simple Sew Tea Dress

You may notice that the sleeve does not go all the way round the armscye. You will be left with a gap of a few inches, at the front.

So, to fill that gap, we can use some bias binding. I’m quite a fan of bias binding; it’s so versatile and pretty easy to use.

You don’t need an awful lot; I used 75cm. (I also bound the shoulder seams with it.) You can either make your own out of the fabric you’re using (or any other fabric), or buy pre-made. There are plenty of tutorials online explaining how to make your own!

I think it’s best to hem the sleeves with bias binding, because of the way they’re curved. So before sewing the sleeves to the bodice, attach the bias binding to the hems of the sleeves (this is the edge with no notch on):

  1. Open out your bias binding and pin to the WRONG side of the sleeve.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

2. Sew together along the crease line.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

3. Flip the bias binding over to the RIGHT side, and, still on the RIGHT side, sew in place close to the inner edge of the bias binding.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Once you’ve done this on both sleeves they should look like this (right and wrong sides):

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

In terms of the construction of the dress so far, you should be up to step 5 or 6 (it doesn’t matter if you have sewn the bodice to the skirt panels or not, which is step 6). You should have:

  1. Sewn in the four darts
  2. Sewn the shoulder seams
  3. Attached the facing

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

So we are inserting the sleeves BEFORE sewing the side seams.

First you need to gather the small section at the sleeve head, between the marks:

  1. Set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length.
  2. Sew two lines of stitching about 3/8″ and 5/8″ away from the raw edge, between the marks.
  3. Pull the bobbin threads of the stitching, to create lots of little gathers. You can pull them quite tight as you will be creating some sweet little gathers at the top of the sleeve. You’ll spread them out a little later to fit the armsyce accurately.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Now you’re ready to insert the sleeves.

Take one sleeve and lay it RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER on top of the corresponding armscye of the bodice, matching the single notch.

Pin the sleeve to the bodice from the notch to the edge.

 Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Then pin the opposite side; start at the end, which will lay right up to the side seam. Pin until you get to the gathered section.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Pull the gathers until the sleeve piece fits snugly in place, and pin the remaining gap.

Now you’re ready to sew. Starting from the edge where the sleeve and bodice meet (forget about extra few inches for now), sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance all the way to the end. Take your time to ensure there are no puckers!

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Wa-hey; that’s one sleeve inserted. Now repeat with the other!

Now to finish off, we just need to tidy up those few inches. Take your bias binding – you will attach it to the seam allowance in a slightly different way to how you attached it to the hem of the sleeves.

  1. Open out your bias binding and pin to the RIGHT side of the sleeve, with a 5/8″ SEAM ALLOWANCE. (Don’t put the bias binding right up to the edge of the fabric, or you’ll risk the armsyce being too tight!) Sew along the crease line of the bias binding. Note: you can either bind just the gap of a few inches [just stop when you’re past the gap], or bind the seam allowance of the sleeve too. I chose to bind the seam allowance as I like the finish inside.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

2. Trim the seam allowance of the bodice/sleeve flush against the bias binding.

3. Flip the bias binding over to the WRONG side, and EITHER slipstitch (by hand) the bias binding down, OR stitch in the ditch (from the RIGHT side!) [I slipstitch!]

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Give the sleeve/bodice a good press, and unpick any visible gathering stitches from the sleeve head.

Ta-dah, that’s it! 🙂

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

This is what the inside will look like if you sewed the bias binding all the way round like I did:

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

Neat, huh?

And this is what the bodice looks like on! (Excuse the towel on my head; I haven’t dyed my hair purple!!)

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

I hope that this made sense – please do let me know if something’s confusing, and I will answer any questions you have if you’re making the dress.

Beth x

 

Mens Sweatshirt to Ladies Tank Top *Refashion*

My boyfriend is one of those people who wears something once or twice and then gets bored of it.
This sweatshirt was one of those things.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

When he said that he no longer wanted it, of course I swooped in and hung it on my to-refashion rail. I like the design, and it looks new because he probably wore it only once. Now it’s all miiiiiiine. I got out my scissors and sewing machine, and an hour later I had this:

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank TopI love it!

Here’s a quick how-to if you’re interested:

Refashion a mens sweatshirt into a ladies tank top!

Firstly you need to find a tank top that fits and place it on top of the sweatshirt.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

Cut around it, leaving some seam allowance. You should leave a good couple of inches if the top you’re using as a guide is stretchy and the sweatshirt isn’t. You might also want to cut off the store label!

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

I chose to leave the hem in place until I tried the top on. Only then did I decide to cut it away, too – but you could do this at the beginning. If so, put it, along with the sleeves and neckline, to one side (you may use these for something else; waste not, want not!)

Next, with right sides together, sew down the two sides.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

You may leave the top like this if you like – after turning it right side out, of course – as the edges shouldn’t fray if it’s made of a normal sweatshirt material. However if you are not too keen on this look, you can turn under the edges of the hem, neckline and armholes and sew, close to the edge. (Which is what I did, after some deliberation!)

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

And there you have it – a new top in an evening, and an old sweatshirt saved from landfill.

Quick selfie!

*Refashion* Mens Sweatshirt into a Ladies Tank Top

Beth x

Pretty In Pink – Travel Sewing Kit

Now that Christmas has been and gone I can finally share some of the presents I made for my family. First up is my sister’s ultra cute sewing kit. She doesn’t sew but just wanted a few things to enable her to do the basics. So I bought her some needles, little scissors, threads and pins (and made a tiny pincushion!) – and made the kit to hold it all in.

sewing kit

I followed the excellent tutorial on the blog of ‘Lots of Pink Here’.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s functional and pretty! Win-win!

It folds up into a handy A5-ish shape, and has a long tie to fasten it.

sewing kit

I really enjoyed making this, mostly because I have been making a lot of clothing over the past few months; this made a nice change and used some different techniques.

To begin with I had to quilt the main pieces. OK, it’s only a bunch of straight lines but I liked sewing them! And I think I did a pretty good job at keeping them straight.

sewing kit

The tutorial calls for bias tape, 2 1/4″ wide. I was feeling lazy so thought I’d cheat and use some ready-made tape. The snag was that it was only 1/2″ wide. Hmm… a slight difference!

bias binding

It was fiddly, but it wasn’t as disastrous as you might think. The result was a cute, neat edge on the pockets. Luckily my slanted stitching is only visible in the photo – not so much in real life!

sewing kit

The sewing kit has two good-sized pockets, a thread holder, a scissor case and a little needle book. The scissor case was probably the most frustrating part; it was a challenge trying to get it straight!

sewing kit

The thread holder is a cute idea. It’s got a teeny bit of Velcro to hold it down, and it can fit three or four spools of thread on it; although to be honest the strip is a tad thick so they don’t slip on very easily!

sewing kit

Once all the bits were sewed on, I just had to trim the edges with bias binding. It suddenly occurred to me that I made too much bias binding when I made my Sorbetto top – out of the same ditsy floral fabric that lines this sewing kit!!

bias binding

So I used that! And there was just about the right amount. I machine-stitched it down on one side then hand-stitched the other, which gave a nice neat finish that I’m pretty proud of. I achieved some good metered corners, too, which was new to me!

mitered corner

And that’s it!

sewing kit

Shame I didn’t take a photo of it all filled up because it was really cute!

As I’m not doing a lot of sewing at the moment due to it being the school holidays, I will share a couple more of the gifts I made for Christmas soon!

Beth x

I Can Sew a Rainbow

My five-year-old recently put an order in for a rainbow dress. I didn’t disappoint her.

Rainbow dress

The idea came from the blog of ‘A Jennuine Life’, which I stumbled upon on Pinterest. From the photo it looked amazing. I read the blog post and – wow – she’d made it perfectly, and it looked a bit difficult. It involves lots of piecing and lining up. Plus she mentioned that she switched threads for every colour. Could I really be bothered to do that? The bigger question, though, was could I actually make the dress at all? See, there was no pattern, or even tutorial. Unfortunately by the time I had realised that, I had my heart set on making a curvy rainbow dress. So… I had one hell of a challenge on my hands. But I did it!!

Rainbow dress

Of course, I cut a few corners. I didn’t totally copy the other blogger’s dress. I admit I stole the curvy design – but I simplified things by keeping the back plain.

Rainbow dress - back

I am quite impressed with how this dress turned out, because I drafted the pattern and construction all by myself! Having only started making clothes a couple of months ago, that’s quite an achievement in my eyes.

Rainbow dress

Seeing as there is no pattern or tutorial for a dress like this, I thought I would type up what I did here – a) to help myself remember how to make this fab dress, so I can whip it up much more quickly, and b) to provide it for any of you lovely readers, so you don’t have to think too much!

So, here it is – my first little tutorial. Now, I totally made it up as I was going along, from start to finish, so there were errors. This is not a professional tutorial! But it WILL result in a beautiful rainbow dress.

First, take a well-fitting A-line dress from your model’s wardrobe, and lay it on some paper (in my case a roll of kids’ paper).

Rainbow dress - draw pattern

Draw around it, adding a 5/8″ seam allowance. If your dress has sleeves, fold them out the way and draw along where the seam line is, creating a sleeveless dress template.

Rainbow dress - pattern making

Cut this out, fold it in half, and correct yourself if your sides aren’t symmetrical.

Next, with this piece still folded, trace around it to make your dress front (lining) piece. You will cut this on the fold. Now, use this piece to draft your dress back piece. Simply line it up on more paper, spacing it 5/8″ from the long edge, as shown below:

Rainbow dress - making back pattern piece

Draw around the whole thing, along all the edges – just making that gap down the long side so that you have an added seam allowance for your zip. And cut it out!

So, you will now have your dress back piece, and your dress front piece – which is just for the lining – both half-dress sizes. I made mistakes on writing on the pieces – of course you do not cut the back pieces on the fold!

Rainbow dress - pattern pieces

Put these to one side. You’re now going to work on the front of the dress. Take your large dress front piece, and draw sweeping lines across it to create seven blocks. This took me a couple of attempts – you want the blocks to be fairly consistent in width – but don’t stress over the measurements; just use your eye.

Rainbow dress - pieces drawn

And cut out your pieces. Write the corresponding colour on each piece so that you don’t get confused later on.

Rainbow dress - pieces cut

Now this is the time-consuming bit. You can’t use those pieces because they have no seam allowance. Having said that, I guess you could use them and just cut your fabric wider than the pieces – but I would probably forget. So if you’d like to do it like I did, trace the pieces onto more paper, adding a 5/8″ seam allowance. It was only when I got to the cutting out stage that I realised I needn’t make the seam allowance all the way around – only between the colours (i.e. the long sides of the pieces). However, bare with me, because cutting a seam allowance all the way round worked in my favour. It meant that I didn’t have to be 100% precise with sewing. And somehow, I didn’t end up with a dress that was 5/8″ larger all the way around – the edges were jagged. You will get what I mean when you see the photo further down; for now, just redraw and cut your pieces with a 5/8″ seam allowance all the way around.

Rainbow dress - making pieces

Now, you will have seven pieces cut. They won’t all fit together because of the seam allowances, but don’t worry – it’s fine. You may wish to mark where the grainline will be. Excuse my random paperweights! You won’t have cut out the red piece at the top yet – I only realised I should think about grainlines after I’d cut that piece!

Rainbow dress - pieces

Hooray – you have all your pieces ready! Now to start cutting.

Grab your fabrics in an array of colours. I bought 1/2m in all, but 1m in lilac for the lining, and it was plenty (for an age 5 dress):

Rainbow dress - fabrics

Now cut:
> Lining pieces – 1 x dress front piece on the fold, and 2 x dress back pieces.
> 2 x dress back pieces in any colour – I used red because I had more of it due to the red piece being the smallest – and I think it looks good.
> Your rainbow pieces.

Rainbow dress - red pattern piece

Phew. Now you have all your pieces cut, you can finally start sewing 🙂

Get your first two pieces (in my case red and orange – but you may like to put your colours in reverse order – or not even use all the actual rainbow colours). Pin them together along their long sides. You will have bits poking out. Now, this is where I found that added seam allowance useful, because it means you don’t have to be 100% precise. Stitch along the edge, and it doesn’t matter if the start and finish aren’t equal (but of course try to make them as equal as possible, or you will cause yourself problems!)

Rainbow dress - piecing together

Continue this way, stitching all the pieces together (with a 5/8″ seam allowance), until you have something that looks like this:

Rainbow dress - piecing done

Notice how the edges are uneven? It’s absolutely fine. Now press all the seams open.

Rainbow dress - piecing done

Now, you can grab your dress front lining piece and place it on top. You will probably see that the edges are uneven, like in the left-hand-side photo below. That’s fine – you can simply trim around the edges to make it all neat!

Rainbow dress - tidy up

Next, put your lining and main dress together. You will then be left with a lining consisting of a dress front piece and back pieces, and a main dress consisting of your rainbow front piece and back pieces. So, with right sides together, pin and stich down the long edges of the lining, and then do the same with the main dress.

Rainbow dress - stitch backs to fronts

Rainbow dress - back to front

Press the seams open. It’s coming along nicely!

Now to put the lining and main dress together. I followed the same technique as I used for the Cottage Mama Party Dress. It looks a bit confusing, but it works.

First, put right sides together, and stitch along only where I have indicated below. This is along the neckline (front and back), and the armholes. You leave a couple of inches up to the shoulders, and the tops of the shoulders free.

Rainbow dress - stitch neckline

Clip the corners (or use pinking shears – a great tip), trim, turn right side out, and press. Now, I got carried away and pinked around the whole edge. DON’T do this! It makes it very difficult to know where the seam allowance will be for your shoulders. Trim only where you have actually just sewn. You can see in the photo below that the shoulders are zigzagged – they shouldn’t be!

Rainbow dress - neckline stitched

Now for the fiddly part. I will try to describe it the best I can. You are going to stich the front shoulder piece to the back shoulder piece. So, take a shoulder from the front of the dress and a shoulder from the back of the dress, and hold them right sides together; pin. You will have the rainbow piece lying against the back piece (in my case red), and the front lining lying against the back lining). If you are doing this now, it should make sense!

Rainbow dress - shoulders

You are going to stitch along this edge:

Rainbow dress - shoulders

And you will end up with something like this (although not so scruffy if you didn’t trim those edges!) The arrow shows where you have stitched.

Rainbow dress - shoulders

You should see it really come into shape now, it’s a great technique. Now you just need to press the edges under…

Rainbow dress - shoulders

… and either slipstitch the gap, or topstitch around the armhole. (I slipstitched.)

Rainbow dress - sleeves

Repeat the process for the other shoulder!

Now it’s time to add the zip. Mine was 9″ concealed (I think!) – it won’t really matter exactly how long it is (and of course it will depend on the size of your dress!) – just have it going down about halfway.

I’m not going to bother explaining how to insert a zip because there are some great tutorials out there. I learnt with Thread Carefully’s tutorial – it means you can insert it with your ordinary zipper foot.

Rainbow dress - zip

Once the zip is in place, finish stitching the back seam. Then measure how far up your zip ends, and use this measurement to stitch the back seam of the lining, up to this point. Press the rest of the seam allowance open.

Rainbow dress - lining

Slipstitch the lining in place down the zip – being sure not to go through to the main back piece. Keep the lining away from the zip or it will get stuck! Mine is not very straight and neat, but I didn’t really care. It won’t get seen. Tuck the top of the zip to the sides so that the zip is right at the top of the dress.

Rainbow dress - lining

Now all you need to do is hem it – and give it a good press. Now, you could hem the main dress and lining separately; but I decided to hem it all together because I didn’t finish any seams inside. Therefore the hem is thicker, but it isn’t actually too chunky. I debated with myself over the colour of thread. It would be nice to match the thread to the colours of the fabric, to hide it. But to be honest, at this point I didn’t really care and just went for a red thread to match the back. I think it looks fine. Fold and press the hem under twice, and stitch close to the fold.

Rainbow dress - hem

And that’s ‘it’!!

Rainbow dress

It definitely fits the brief of a ‘rainbow dress,’ doesn’t it?

Rainbow dress

It would be fabulous with a rainbow back, too. It wouldn’t be much more difficult to make – it’s making those paper pieces that is the irritating stage! Especially when your paper is all curly, haha.

Rainbow dress - back

I think the end result looks pretty neat.

Rainbow dress - back

Thankfully the dress fits my little girl – it’s always a bit of a worry that it won’t fit after you’ve put so much effort into it. I do always have the back-up of a younger girl to grow into it, though! The armholes do look a bit tight, but she assured me that they’re not, so I won’t worry about it!

Rainbow dress

I hope you find this useful… if you do make a dress like this, please comment below as I would love to see it. I also welcome any other comments or questions!

The Rainbow Dress - Tutorial

Beth x