I am a big fan of instructables for quite some while, but this is my first instructables. I just feel it's time for me to contribute. So stay tuned...
Spring is around the corner, even here in Canada, snow is pretty much melted. That calls for a couple of new dresses! I went through my closet, picked out several out dated T-shirts and tank tops, and the ideas start to pop. How about let's make a chic one-shouldered dress. Sounds good? Let's get down to it.
Step 1: Design Pattern and Gather Material+tools
I like to use paper patterns, it's just more assuring and the result is more professional. One can download free patterns online. Some companies will give away a few classic patterns to increase web traffic. I downloaded quite a few of these. By using those patterns as a reference point, you can design and create almost any style that fits your taste. Today I will use one shoulder knit dress pattern as my start point and turn my hubby's old long T-shirt into a chic dress. This pattern addresses all sizes, so feel free to download and create something unique!
Let's get started. First, the design. I played with a couple ideas and put some of the thoughts into drawings as shown in the title picture. At the end, I decided to use the full length of the T-shirt fabric and a piece of 4'x4' chiffon that I have in hand to make a maxi dress as shown in the picture.
* 2-3 of your old T-shirts or tank tops (or 1-2 of your hubby/BF's), roughly about 40" long and 40" wide fabric. Depends on what design you are going for, you might need a little more or less.
*1 piece of 4'X4' chiffon
*One piece of 4" square craft fleece (or similar heavy yet soft fabric)
*5 yards of lace trim (optional)
*Color thread that matches the fabric
*Paper for printing out the pattern and newspaper for designing your own paper pattern
Step 2: Make the Paper Pattern and Cut the Material
First let us print out the PDF, make sure the printer will print out the actual size, no scale. Then use tape to connect the papers according to the marks (triangles with numbers or letters on top). For example: 1 < to >1, a< to >a,...and so on. After this step, the pattern is quite clear and visible. Now all we need to do is cut out the pattern according to the size you pick. I put the result in the picture as shown above.
The original pattern uses elastic at the waist line. I tried my material, it's very stretch, definitely don't need elastic. I believe most of the tank top or T-shirt will be stretch enough to omit the elastic, but you should still apply your judgement according to your fabric. Since there is no need for using elastic at the waist line, I connected the top part and the skirt part into one piece as shown in the picture. The top part of the skirt is wider than the bottom part of the top, to connect these two pieces, one need to fold the middle line of the skirt part further in to make the two widths equal. I also ignored the curve design at the waist, just make it flat to connect with the top.
Using this one piece paper pattern, I traced out the shape of the dress (knee length) on fabric. Then I draw a diagonal line from a little above knee on one side to my fabric full length on the other side. Since the fabric is quite stretch, I only added 1/8" seam, turns out that's more than enough. Now it's time to pin the front piece and back piece together and cut. NB: make sure the right side of fabric either both facing outside or both facing inside. The third picture shows the result.
Step 3: Sew the Front and the Back Together
After sealing the edge of the neck lines and the arm lines, one should turn the fabric inside out and pin the shoulder and sides together. I use the knit trim to increase the tear tolerant, but this precaution turns out is not that necessary. As an engineer, reinforce the structure to make things more solid is in my blood, I just can't help it. LOL
Now with the help of sewing machine (or needle+a lot of patience), stitch the front and back together. If you use sewing machine, try to use round point needle. If you don't have that, use newspaper under the fabric so that the fabric won't sink into the machine. Also try to pick some sort of zigzag stitch to seal the edge of the fabric the same time(or use a serger if possible).
There you go, you got your rough version of the dress. Try it on to see whether any adjustment needed.
Step 4: Add the Skirt Tail
Let's take out the chiffon fabric now. First cut the square chiffon fabric into 2 identical pieces. Take one piece, mark the desired height of the tail on the sides of the chiffon (one side tall, one side short). I use the full height of the fabric on the tall side. Draw a line between the marks. Compare the line with bottom part of the dress, the angle should be similar, if not, do some adjustment. Pin 2 chiffon pieces together, right side out, then cut along the line. Please refer to the picture for result.
Run a needle with a thread through the top of tail piece then pull the fabric together on thread until it reach the length that fits the bottom of the dress. See picture. Don't forget to leave 1/4" on both sides to connect the front and the back piece. Arrange the folds so that they distribute evenly.
Do the same to the back tail piece then stitch the front tail and back tail together.
Now all we left to do in this step is hem the edge and sew the tail onto the dress. To prevent the chiffon fabric sink into the sewing machine, I used the newspaper trick again. I am not too confident that I can make the interface between the dress and the tail perfectly. So I add the lace trim to beautify it. If you are more experienced cloth maker, then this is optional.
At this point, my dress looks good and wearable already. I tried it on and it fits. A good relief!
Step 5: Make a Big Flower
Now we will use the remaining chiffon fabric to make a flower.
1, Sew the two chiffon piece together to form a long ribbon. (picture 1)
2, Fold the long ribbon lengthwise to form a long tube, then stitch the edges together.
3,Seal the long tube to make a long bag, add lace trim to the side of the long bag (optional). (picture 2)
4,Run a needle with a thread through the other side of the long bag (not the trim side), then pull the fabric together to create nice folds. (picture 3)
5,Cut the craft fleece to form a 4" wide round piece.
6,Arrange the now laced and prepared chiffon long bag to form a flower. We have to make sure the bottom of the flower no bigger than the craft fleece. (picture 4)
7, Stitch the bottom of the flower onto the craft fleece carefully. (picture 5)
Voila, we have a big flower.
Step 6: Stitch the Flower Onto the Dress
Choose the location where you would like to put the flower then stitch craft fleece onto the dress as show in the picture. Worth mention, before stitch the flower on, you should try to hold the flower vertically to see whether it can holds the shape or the top part will fall down due to the gravity. Turn the flower slower until you find a position that the top part of the flower won't fall. Remember to stitch the flower onto the dress according to this position.
A side note: After I tried the dress a couple times, I decided that I really don't like the strapless bra (really don't have enough support). So I added 3 straps on the other shoulder and using lace to decorate the middle strap so that I can still wear my normal bra. That's why you see 3 straps there.
Step 7: Wear It Proudly
Yes, we are done. Time to enjoy the result!
I am quite happy with my dress, it looks a little more dramatic than I thought. I guess that's partially my fault. Because I don't like to have leftovers, the dress itself is 1-2 inches longer than designed and the flower is also 1-2 inches bigger than designed. Well, I will just wear high heel and get use to the over the top flower. :-D
I hope this instructable can inspire you to design your version of the amazing dresses. If you find this instructable helpful, it would be awesome to vote for me. I will view that as a sign of encouragement. More to come!