Monday, April 11, 2011

Toddler Dress From Blouse

Before I start, I need to preface this tutorial with this disclaimer:  This was a first time, experimental project.  I learned a few things during the process that might be better for next time, and I will try to share the wisdom gained from my trial and errors with you.  Some of the steps may be a bit challenging for a beginner, but then how would we ever learn anything if we didn't try!

To start with, you need a blouse.  I used a women's, size small, with 3/4 length sleeves.  I was making a toddler, size 2, so it was long enough for what I needed.  A blouse without darts would be preferable, but not absolutely necessary.  You will also need some 1/4" double fold bias tape.  I used less than 1 1/2 yards.

The first thing to do is carefully remove the collar by picking out the stitching that attaches it to the neckband.

Now, carefully cut the sleeves away close to the seam.  Set them aside to be used later.

Cut the side seams and pick out any darts.  Press.  Note:  You'll notice in this picture that I have already cut the bottom edge of the blouse...don't do that yet!  One of those things I learned along the way not to do.  You will actually trim it later.

I needed to make the neck band smaller.  To do this, I figured out the finished size I would need the neck band to be (don't forget to add extra for seam allowances!) and then removed a section of the shoulder seam, cutting through the neck band.  I did this to both sides.  Note:  You need to take the excess out at the shoulder seams and not just one big seam in the back.  If you just take it out of the back, your front piece will be wider than the back and it won't be proportioned right.

Lay your pieces together, matching up the shoulders.   Measure from the base of the neckband to however long you want the dress to be.  Allow extra for the hem.  Trim away, allowing a slight curve at the bottom.

Next, use a t-shirt, or pattern, to give you an idea on how to cut the sleeve openings, shoulders, and sides. As you can see, I used a pattern.  Place the center edge of your pattern, or t-shirt, on the center of the button placket, and the shoulders of the pattern lined up with the shoulders you already cut.  When you cut the side seams, allow them to flare out a little, giving your dress the room it needs.  (Oops! Disregard the uneven cut at the bottom, one of my trial and errors!)

Flip your pattern over and repeat on the opposite side.

Using the sleeves you cut from the blouse, cut sleeves for the dress.  I cut off some of the curve of the original sleeve as shown below.

Next, I cut it off straight at about 5 1/2".  After the dress was finished, though, I realized it might have been better to curve it a bit.  You can see what I mean by looking at the white dashed line in the photo.

Cut out pockets for your dress using the rest of the sleeves.  I wanted rounded pockets with gathers on top, but you can do any style you want.

Now that all the pieces are cut, you are ready for assembly.  Before you can sew the shoulder seams together, you need to carefully pick out some of the stitching on the backside of the neckband—about 1 to 1 1/2".  Then line up your shoulder seams, placing right sides together, and pin in place.  Stitch shoulder seams together, including the neckband, being careful to fold the unattached pieces of the neckband away so they don't get caught in the seam.  Repeat on the other side.

Now with your unattached, inside neckbands just flapping there, carefully pin them, right sides together (it's a little tricky), and stitch.  Press the seams flat on the front and back neckbands.  Reattach the neckband to the dress, stitching through all layers.  At this point, the top outside edge of the neckband is still open and waiting for the next step where you insert the collar.

Now measure how big your collar needs to be and cut it to size.  I went for a rounded collar and cut equal amounts off each side.

Trim it out with bias tape.

Place it in between the open neckband, right side facing down, and pin in place.  Before stitching, make sure that when the dress is buttoned, and the collar is lying down, that the correct side of the collar is showing.  Stitch in place through all layers.

This is how it should look at this point.

Prepare the sleeves by basting the top edge, starting and finishing your basting stitch about 4" from each edge.  Baste along the bottom edge of your sleeve starting and stopping about 2" in from each side, and close to the edge (so it will be enclosed in the bias tape trim.)   Gather the top basted edge to fit the sleeve opening and pin the sleeve to the dress, right sides together.  Stitch in place.

Measure your child's upper arm circumference, allowing for ease and seams, and cut a piece of bias tape accordingly.  Gather the bottom basted edge of the sleeve and apply the bias tape, right side of tape to wrong side of sleeve.  Leave about 1 1/2" of bias tape unattached at each end at this point.  You will attach it later.  Set aside.

It's easier if you sew the pockets on before you sew the side seams.  So, press your pocket edges to the back and baste along the top edge.  Gather to the width you desire.  Cut a piece of bias tape to length, allowing for seams.

Gather the top edge of the pocket and apply the bias tape, right side of tape to wrong side of fabric.  After stitching, at each end, fold the bias tape back on itself and sew each end as shown.

Trim corners, fold to front, and press in place.  Top stitch.  Repeat with other pocket.

Pin the pockets in place and topstitch close to edge.  (I just placed them where I thought they looked best.)

Line up your side seams, right sides together and stitch, being careful not to catch the unattached ends of bias tape in the seams.  When finished, open the bias tape flat, pin with right sides together and stitch, being careful not to stitch through the newly sewn side seams.  Trim away any excess, if needed.

Finish stitching the bias tape to the bottom edge of the sleeve.  

Turn the bias tape to the front of sleeve,
press, and top stitch in place.

Hem the dress using your preference.  I serged the edge and then folded it up once, pressed, and stitched.

And there you have it!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Click HERE to return to the original post of the dress.

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