In this instructible I'm going to show you how to take a shirt that most people would probably throw out because it isn't usable. I was at a thrift store and found this shirt that was not in wearable condition. The fabric itself was all intact and was very beautiful so I felt it was up to me to rescue it. Maybe with the help of this tutorial you can rescue an old garment that isn't getting love.
My starting shirt was smocked but yours doesn't need to be. It's easy to do on your own. Just follow along to read how.
What you need:
coordinating scrap fabric
ribbon or lace or braided fabric for straps
chalk/pen/marking device (if you are using something permanent then I suggest drawing on the inside of your shirt instead of the outside also DO NOT USE A MARKER. It will bleed through the fibers and not look pretty.)
The amount of scrap fabric you need depends on what size jumper dress you are wanting to make and how big the shirt you are starting with is. If the shirt you are working from is large enough you may not need any extra fabric at all unless you just want the contrast.
This can cost as little or as much as you want. You could use another shirt for you scrap fabric even if you wanted and if you have the shirts already or someone gives them to you then you could do this for free assuming you already have your sewing supplies.
Step 1: Getting Started
First you need to know your measurements.
You want the length around your child's waist, chest, and the length from the bottom of where your bodice will be to the bottom of where you want the shirt to fall on their leg.
Now you need to prepare your shirt for cutting. Mine had a trim around the neck which I picked off with a seam ripper and put aside for later.
Lay out your shirts as smooth as you can with the front and back lined up as best as you can.
If your shirt has smocking like mine did then measure from the top of the smocking to the hem to see if this would be a suitable length for the skirt of your dress. This will be the length of your dress minus the bodice. You want to mark it with an extra 1/4" above what you need. If not then don't worry you can cut a piece of your coordinating fabric to add to the bottom as trim and this can make up your length.
If you're shirt does not have smocking then measure the length you need it to be and you will need to add some extra width if you plan to add smocking. To do this simply take the waist measurement and divide it in half. Ideally you will want to add around an extra 4"-5" to this half measurement. Now lay your yard stick over your shirt and mark your lines.
In order to smock all you need to do is lightly wind some elastic thread around your bobbin. Then using a normal thread for your top thread you will stitch lines from one end of your fabric to the other width wise approx 1/4" apart. It doesn't have to be perfect so don't worry. I would say 8 to 10 lines should be enough. Just be sure that you put the right side of your fabric facing up and the wrong side facing down so the elastic thread is on the inside when your finished.
Step 2: Cutting!
Now everything should be marked and you should be ready to cut. To give you an idea this is how mine looked when I first cut out my skirt. As you can see I had some extra I cut off from the side of my skirt. I really loved this trim. It is what makes the fabric so pretty. So I didn't want to waist any of it. So I used the extra piece in my bodice by cutting it to the size I needed and flipping it upside down. So don't discard your scraps yet and try to leave them as intact as possible while you cut your skirt out.
For your bodice you need to cut a piece that is half the chest measurement plus the length you need from the bottom of the chest to the top of where you want your bodice to cover. If you take this piece from the bottom with a finished hem then you only need an extra 1/4" for seam allowance. You will also need an extra 1 1/4" to the width of your bodice. If you take your bodice from a piece that does not have a finished hem then you will need to add around 1" to account for hemming. You will want The top edge of your bodice finished before you go on.
Step 3: Bodice
You will notice that my trim had little wholes in it as part of the design. Obviously if I left this as is it would have been inappropriate for my daughter to wear. So I fixed this by cutting a piece of my extra fabric to be the same size as my bodice piece minus the scallops. Then I cut a strip 3 inches wide and 30" long. The pic below shows a shorter piece but I had to re-cut another piece because this one wasn't long enough. If you are wanting to add the pleating then you will want your fabric for your pleat to be roughly 3 times the length you need the finished pleat to be.
Step 4: Makeing Your Pleat
TO make your pleat you will need to start by folding your strip in half and sewing a line down the edge. Then iron this flat so it is easier to work with. Now comes the tedious part. Begin folding and ironing and folding and ironing and folding ect....
Step 5: Complete the Pleat
To make your pleat easier to work with simply tack it down along your first stitch line. This will hold it all together and make it much easier to use and work with.
Step 6: Pleat to Inner Bodice
Now add your pleat to your inner bodice just as in the picture below. The bodice should be facing right side up and the pleat should be facing right side down.
Step 7: Top Stitch
Turn your pleat up to the way you want it to be and top stitch across.
Step 8: Still the Bodice
Now this may look wrong but it's not. Doing it this way will doe all your seams. Lay your bodice together exactly how you plan it to look and then stitch down around the sides and bottom. Then you will flip this inside out and stitch around the sides the exact same way. Then you can flip it inside out again which will actually be the right way at this point.
Step 9: This Skirt
Woohoo! This bodice is pretty much done at least for now. So onto the skirt. This part is easy. Just stitch along the side with right sides out. Again I know this looks wrong but this is correct. It is called a french seam.
Step 10: French Seams
Now flip inside out and stitch again.
Step 11: Ta-dah
Flip it right side out now and this is how it will look if you look at it. All edges are neatly enclosed and unfrayable. Now none of my pretty embroidery will come unraveled.
Step 12: Attatch Your Bodice
Hem all the way around the top of your skirt. Then center your bodice on the front of your skirt with the wrong side up. This will be stitched to the inside of your hem.
Step 13: Straps
Ok to add your straps measure your child from the top of where the bodice will touch over the shoulder and down to their waist. If you want to do a cross over like mine then make sure you are measuring that way. You want to measure the strap exactly how it will be worn.
Once you get your measurement you should add an extra 2" to it. Then cut two of them and tuck them into the corners of your bodice and stitch down. Go back over them again to be sure they are nice and secure.
Step 14: Straps in the Back
Now just cross the straps over each other in an x and tack them down in the back being sure to get them even.
Step 15: CONGRATS!
Woohoo! You did it! Congrats! Now find a beautiful little girl to put it on and watch her glow with excitement at getting to wear something that was made just for her. :-)