NOTE: I'm currently re-vamping this instructable for clarity and completeness. Please check back and give me notes once it's finished - Mahalo!
This project will take (at least) two people, one of whom should be a savvy seamster. We had both people being great seamstresses, but then, we only had two hours. It was a collaboration from the minds of Ruthie Daughters Voss and Thayer Abaigael Lund. We designed and built this dress during The LindyHop for Life charity event we were attending, a 24-Hour Dance-a-thon, with our group, The Cult of the Eye .
1. What you'll need:
1a. two roomy (L, XL or XXL, depending on the model's figure - we used XLs and I'm about a size 8) non-fitted t-shirts
1b. enough trim to go around the finished hem of your dress (we recommend something heavier, like a beaded trim, which will help show off the fantail inset best)
1c. a sewing machine (we used a babylock, and a regular sewing machine could do just as well), but I suppose you could hand-sew it (might take a while...)
1d. one large snap
1e. other sewing essentials: pins, thread, handstitch needle (to sew on trim), sharp scissors
Step 1: The Bodice
A NOTE BEFORE WE START: All the measurements are 'eyeballed', not exact. This is both a very freeing and, yet, terrifying concept. Just keep remembering, if it all goes to Helena Handbasket, you're pretty much only out two T-shirts....
2a.Put 1st t-shirt on "the Model". At nape of neck, cut ribbing and shorten to fit snugly (without choking). Cut around neck ribbing, leaving it attached to t-shirt in the front, as wide as you want the halter to be. Sew a large snap at nape of neck to rejoin the ribbing.
2b. Cut halter and back neckline (leaving neck ribbing). Take in side seams to be form-fitting to bust (add darts, if needed for fuller bust). Cut empire seam below bust.
2c. Cut hem from sleeves of 1st t-shirt and sew into straps from halter back to neck back.
2d. From remaining fabric of the 1st t-shirt, cut a tube of fabric (wide enough to attach at empire seam and cover to just below natural waistline. Cut open tube (Tie-Cinch Waist) and attach center of it to middle front of halter at empire seam; sew front together, ending just past sides (leave ends of Tie-Cinch Waist dangling; this will become a tie in the back).
3. Save scraps from 1st t-shirt for fantail inset on skirt and to make (optional) Pin-Up Girl Pillbox Hat (that's a WHOLE different project unto itself - I'll see if I can convince Bif, the creator, to put up an instructable on that!)
Step 2: The Skirt
3a. Take 2nd t-shirt and cut out neck ribbing (or across from armpit to armpit for a shorter skirt). Put on "The Model" at waist. Take in side seams to be form-fitting to hips and thighs. Cut hemline asymmetrically to be slightly longer in the center back.
3b. Center skirt front to bodice front and sew front together, ending at sides. Finish back of skirt waist seam separately.
3c. At center back of waist seam, shirr about 3-5 inches (depending on how deep you prefer to dip to be),
Step 3: The Fantail Inset and Beaded Hem
3a. Make a vertical cut at back center of skirt. The length of this cut will depend on the length of skirt. The cut should end slightly higher than the back of the knee.
3b.Measure length of slit and cut out a half-circle (the fantail inset), from remaining fabric of 1st t-shirt The half-circle should have a radius (the measurement from outer edge of the circle to center) length equal to length of the slit.
3c.Sew straight edge of inset to sides of slit.
3d.Finish skirt hem with beaded trim.