Monday 26 June 2017

FO: The raspberry dress

This weekend, amid the chaos of several birthday parties, I decided that what I really wanted to do was sew a dress for my daughter. This has been on my to-do list for ages, and a few weeks ago I found a tutorial (in a sewing magazine) for turning a t-shirt into a dress (by adding a fabric skirt), so decided that was what I was going to do.

Yesterday afternoon I set to work, and started reading the tutorial, only to find that it was almost entirely useless: the only measurement given was that the skirt fabric should be four times the waist measurement, and there was no indication of whether that was the width across the waist, or around the waist, and nothing at all about how long the skirt should be. At which point I went upstairs to find one of my daughter's dresses in the right style and decided to make it up as I went along.

The dress I was working from had pockets, and as I love having pockets in all my clothing I decided to stretch myself and draft some pockets. I had a roll of pattern paper to hand, which made the job a lot easier, but I essentially took the measurements from the dress I had to hand and transferred them to the paper, and quite quickly had a template for the front and back of the skirt and some pockets, and got to work cutting the fabric.

The fabric I chose to use was super-cheap - an IKEA duvet cover that was in the sale a couple of years ago - and features a busy raspberry-print, which works any way up, avoiding the need for pattern-matching. I decided to use French seams (which are enclosed - I don't have an overlocker, and hate finishing seams, so this is my preferred method), and quite quickly managed to create the pockets and attach them to the skirt front (although I did have a moment of panic when I pressed one pocket inside out, so it didn't fit at all!). Seaming the front and back of the skirt together once the pockets were in place was easy (I stitched the tops and sides of the pockets in place on the overlap with the skirt front to stop them moving around), and only took a few minutes.

The challenge started when I had to attach the skirt to the top. The skirt is made of non-stretchy fabric and the t-shirt is jersey (which stretches), and is not something I have worked with before. My sewing machine is pretty basic, and doesn't have an overlocking stitch, so I used a zig-zag stitch (to allow the stitching to move with the t-shirt as it's worn), and after gathering and pinning the skirt, I managed to sew the t-shirt on inside out, then spent the rest of the evening unpicking and repinning (I used a lot more pins the second time round to stop the gathers shifting). Oops.

This morning I was up bright and early, so quickly stitched the skirt and t-shirt together, and hemmed the skirt, then managed to convince my daughter to wear it (she initially said she wanted to wear it tomorrow, which usually means she isn't keen on something). And I think she likes it. She certainly likes the pockets - they are perfect for collecting clover flowers, which our garden is full of at the minute!

The dress is not perfect. There is a bit of a wobble at the back in the seam joining the top and bottom of the dress, and the gathers could be more even. Also, the zig-zag stitch isn't doing very well at supporting the weight of the skirt, so I might go over the stitching with a straight stretch stitch when she takes it off at bedtime. But it's certainly not a bad first attempt. And now I have the pattern pieces, I foresee a few more dresses appearing in the future! I also want to make something for myself - maybe a skirt with pockets now I know how to do them.


  1. She is looking ridiculously cute! Well done (on the dress, and the child!).

    1. Thank you! She is pretty cute (sometimes anyway...).

  2. It looks gorgeous, well done! And how cute is J?!

    1. Thanks Sam! There will be many more dresses now I have the pattern. And she is pretty cute when she wants to be!