April 20, 2009

My red sundress and how I made it.

Since Sunday was such a pretty day, I decided to make myself a sundress. Ironically, making the sundress, kept me indoors all day. In the end, it was time well spent.

Initially, I liked the dress as a strapless, but after wearing it for an hour or so, I came to the conclusion that I needed a bra and not a strapless bra (they always end up at my belly button). Having breastfed 3 babies...... well...... the girls ain't what they used to be. They're tired and very uncooperative. So, I added straps to the dress. Thus, allowing me to wear a bra with it.

(What's up with the hands on hips in all of my pics?! This would explain why my career as a model was so brief. I only had one pose!)

Now we are all happy =) But enough about the girls, lets talk about the dress.

I did not use a pattern, however the ruffle and smocking is inspired by a nightie I saw a couple months back at Anthro. The fabric is part of Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton Solids and it's called Tomato (link).

~ How I made the dress ~

First off, I'm going to refer to the gathering in the bodice as smocking, but I have heard it referred to as shirring. The smocking was done with elastic thread on my home sewing machine. Simply wind your bobbin (by hand) with the elastic thread, insert your bobbin as you normally would, and away you go. Here are 2 links to online tutorials on how to sheer or smock - Portabellopixie (located on her right side bar under tutorials) and Craftstylish.

As a pattern reference for width and length, I used an older smocked sundress that I already owned. I stretched the fabric on the reference sundress to see how wide I should cut my material. I then measured the length of the reference dress. I made a few adjustments, because the fabric I was working with (non stretch cotton) was different from the reference sundress (stretch cotton). Once I figured out all of the measurements, I cut out the pieces and smocked the dress. Before I sewed the 2 pieces together (front and back), I made the ruffle and buttons.

For the ruffle, I cut a rectangle 5" wide and 13" long, which is longer than the actual length of the smocking. I needed to cut it longer than the desired finished length, because I was going to gather it. I then used a coffee canister as a template to cut the rounded end of the rectangle. Next, I serged the edges with a rolled hem stitch and gathered the ruffle to the bodice and stitched it in place. The buttons were made with scrap fabric. I used a button making kit to make them. You should be able to find a button making kit (inexpensive) at your local fabric or craft store. I then marked and sewed on the buttons. Next, I sewed the front and back pieces together. Lastly, I hemmed the bottom and sewed on a ruffle.
I like ruffles.

This dress makes my eyes feel good. One of my favorite color combinations is red and teal. Or is it turquoise? Whichever. I just know I like it =)




Anonymous said...

it's adorable... really really nice!


Mary said...

Great dress and tutorial! It looks fantastic on you!

Bobbinoggin said...

sooo pretty. i don't think this would be lattering on my prego belleh, but mayhaps next summer. :)

i do want to make myself some summer skirts though.

Bobbinoggin said...

lattering=flattering. oops.

Canyon Girl said...

It's lovely and thank you for the tutorial.


Pretty Ditty said...

Thanks everyone.
Bobbinoggin - congrats!

Kim said...

Oh my, I LOVE it! You've settled it, I've got to try this elastic thread smocking thing. The dress is so creative and looks so cute on you!

Jacqueline said...

I am in love with this dress!! Sooo pretty! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! Tutorials really help to get me trying to learn something new!

Do you have a rough idea about how much additional fabric you need to account for to smock it?

For example, if bust measurements are "x" would you say that a few extra inches would suffice or would you need much more than that?

Thanks so much!

Pretty Ditty said...

Hi Willow - Because some fabrics will scrunch up more than others, it's best to cut too much fabric, smock it, and according to your chest measurements, cut off the excess. Before you cut off the excess, sew a stitch line down the length of the smocking to keep the smocking from unraveling. The line should be a 1/4" less than the desired width. For my dress I cut the fabric to be 23" wide (my chest measurement is 35")and I didn't have to do any re-cutting.
I hope that helps.

GoyaDesigns said...

What a coincidence that you made this type of dress. I am making one for my daughter, but the fabric was already scrunched up on the top. I might have to make one for myself and add some ruffles and straps to it.

GoyaDesigns said...

Oh, yeah, forgot to say that I also love the color combo or red and turquoise. It is so lively. I used the same combo on a necklace and earrings up in my shop.

B said...

What a lovely dress, so pretty, that's definitely my next project; maybe it will force the sun out here in Canada!?

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

It's GORGEOUS! Amazing job!

Amy Prior said...

Yep, that is totally gorgeous- I love that colour too. Well done!

Anonymous said...

beautiful dress!

thear said...

this is gorgeous! I am adding it to my list of summer dress to make. thanks for sharing it with us.


Perrine said...

I really like your how to. I was wondering if I could translate it in French and add it to my list of how to as explained in my french post (http://www.petitcitron.com/index.php/form_howto.html)
Of course, your website would be quoted and there would be a link!
Thank you,

Pretty Ditty said...

Hi Perrine! That would be great. Thanks for the link =)

Ellen said...

You did a great job.!! That dress is truly awesome. Impressed with your color selection.

Tiffani said...

That red dress says "make me!" You are amazing and I LOVE that dress and everything else I have seen. I am a new fan of smocking!

mommy Orkid Belle said...

The red dress looks stunning! Love it!

Adin B