Floral Madness {Pillowcase Dress}

This project was on a whole new level for me; I’d never done more with sewing than hemming jeans and fixing tears in my boyfriends work pants.  That being the case, I used scrap materials from a craft bag so it wouldn’t be a waste if it didn’t work out.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went, though!

I used three different tutorials throughout this project, but this one was by far the best (in my opinion) for first-timers (this one on the Sew Like My Mom blog has a ribbon neck instead of elastic – cute!).  I learned a lot of little things that I’d like to pass on to other newbies hoping to try this out.  Since I do all my sewing by hand I modified/skipped some of the steps to save myself some work.  I’ll note all of that here.  Before I begin let me advise you to read this and the tutorial in their entirety before beginning your project!

The supplies list is pretty good – a lot of it is common sense.  I deviated from it a bit though – I don’t have a sewing machine, I didn’t iron, and I didn’t use bias tape.  I also used a paper clip in lieu of a safety pin (I’m guessing the safety pin works better, but my alternative served me just fine).

Now, I looked at a handful of tutorials before I started.  While this one calls for seam binding tape, I saw that people also used ribbons, lace, and nothing at all – I went with lace.  Whatever you use, it all seems to work pretty well.  If you use perforated lace you may be able to see some of the pillowcase, so remember to hem the edges of the arm holes.  Also, I didn’t fold the case in half and cut the arm holes together because my scissors weren’t cooperating.  I would highly recommend you do this, especially if you’re obsessed with symmetry (like me).

On to the side seams! I veered a little off course at this point as well (mostly because I was winging it by then). I’m really not fond of girly things, but this is a girls dress after all, and I decided that white lace just wasn’t right for it. I wanted to add some colorful flair, so I dyed the lace a hideous shade of pink (as if there’s a good shade). To do this I simply took a plastic bowl, water, and the dye, and soaked the lace in it. Of course I set it on paper towels to dry overnight.

See? Pink (ew). If you do this, it’s a good idea to run them through the wash alone before attaching them to the dress, just in case of color bleeding.

The tutorial has a great method for the side seams – I will be using that on future projects. Remember, one of the purposes of this step is to hide the jagged edge from where you cut before. In this example, my lace was so wide that I was able to simply fold it in half over the arm holes. Again, if you use perforated lace, sew the edges over first.

Right now I’ll add a few sewing tips for newbies, because some of them never occurred to me until later. Things that bother them may not bother us, so to make kids clothes you have to consider other things. They have sensitive skin and little things can easily lead to scrapes, irritation, or rashes, especially on hot days. Here are a few things to remember:

Keep your seams as thin as possible. The lace here is not only folded over, it’s two overlapping pieces. This seam is located at the bottom of the arm hole which could potentially be very irritating. Some kids simply don’t like the feeling of a big lump of fabric. More importantly, too much fabric can potentially lead to rashes, especially if the temperature gets high.

Hide your knots. The intersection of the arm material and the elastic casing is also an area where a lot of fabric overlaps. You don’t want exposed knots and fly-away thread ends everywhere, but even less so in thick areas. Tiny as they are, those knots can really bother kids (just like shirt tags bother us). A simple way to avoid this is to tuck your knots and ends behind fabric. See below:

Normally the thread knot simply goes in the back so it’s out of sight – when you’re making the seam casings and attaching the seam lining, you can hide your knots behind your materials. It’s easy: fold your material and enter the needle in between the folds, so the knot will be tucked away when you sew the casing shut.

See? The knot is hidden inside the casing. Then just continue sewing like you normally would! Not only will it eliminate those annoying knots, it will look a bit nicer overall. No ugly fly-away ends and no skin irritation.

So this is what you’ve got:

Yuck! I mean, great (I’m not a fan of floral patterns, either). At this point I would advise you to look at the ends of your ribbon, lace, whatever. If it’s jagged, sew it over (hide the knots!). Since my lace was already folded it half, I turned the edge to the inside, folded it in half, and sewed the ends together. This ensures that the material won’t unravel. When you’re using weaved/braided materials such as ribbon and lace, this is pretty important as a frayed end could easily lead to it all coming apart in the wash.

If you want to add trim, bows, belts, or decorations, now is the time. The tutorial has a good bit on trim, but I didn’t add any so I won’t cover that. I settled on a simple pink bow with pink lace wrapped around it. It’s very simple to attach, though I’d recommend sewing it a few times over to make sure it’s secure. Hide the knot there by putting the needle through the back of the bow first, so it’s tucked between the bow and the dress.

That’s all! Now go have a blast!  (Click here to go to my project index)

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~ by Ashlee on February 9, 2012.

2 Responses to “Floral Madness {Pillowcase Dress}”

  1. Thats really Good Ash.

  2. [...] Pillowcase Dress [...]

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