Thursday, April 21, 2011

$5 Easter Dress for the Bear!

Hi Folks,
 Well let me tell you a little something about my Bear....she is chunky! Yes I am working on this....I do have her on a sort of diet...I watch her portions...try to make sure she eats healthy....I control her intake of sugar...but she is still chunky! And added to that she inherited her Daddy's chest! My 6 1/2 year old has a 38 inch chest! And it's not fat it's just that she is that thick in that area of her body. So pair that with the chunky is nearly impossible to find clothes that fit this child! I have had the hardest time the last two years find just basic school clothes! Now she is chunky enough I can't buy from the girl's section and the Junior department just scares me!

So......yet again I am grateful that I have a Crafty Momma that passed on her smarts and her genes when it comes to making stuff! My 6 year old loves to dress up on Sunday's! Now we go to a come as you are, dress up if you want to...but Jeans are fine kinda of church. So fancy dresses are not required. I normally get away with letting her wear a cute skirt and tee shirt on Sunday mornings....but this year the Easter Dress bug has hit my little girl! And she wanted a DRESS! I guess Momma did too because I started looking a good two months ago with no success! I finally decided that I would just have to make her one!

Unfortunately we live 50 miles away from the nearest fabric store and gas prices are high. So when I happened to be near a fabric store I was low on cash and when I had the cash I couldn't justify the gas money to get me there and back! Sigh! So what did I do....well I started digging in my material box! See one of my teenagers USED to be my little sister...and my Momma did sew for her occasionally...and when she got to big I got the leftover material that Momma didn't use..... But she only sewed for her when she was 3 or 4 years old and most of the pieces of material that I had were less than 2 yards!!

Yet another issue....mmm...what's a Mama D to do??? Well you start searching for patterns that use multiple pieces of material or ones that use less than what you have.....considering my chunky kid....I really didn't think that I would find one that took less than 3 or 4 yards of fabric.

Then the light bulb went off! I have always liked making my girls those tee shirt dresses! When the Bear was a little toot I made her several! All you need was a tee shirt and a yard of fabric that matched! Easy Peasy!

But I wanted to do something a little fancier for I decided to mix my tee shirt dress idea with a tiered (some people call them broomstick) skirt! And because my kid is chunky and we like to camouflage that as much as possible I wanted it to be high waisted (or empire waisted).

First off you have to do some math for your skirt. I measured my daughter's chest/bust line and used that as a substitute for the waistline measurement.
OK let me back up a bit ....if you make the skirt a separate piece you have to allow for a casing for the elastic and you measure from you person's waistline....I made a empire waisted dress and attached a premade tee shirt to the top as a I started at her bust line!

You take your bust line/waistline measurement and double it. Bear's was 38 inches so it came out to be 76 inches. This is how big you want your first tier. For the second tier you double that first tier's measurement and the same for the third.

Now to get how wide to make each tier, you want to measure your person and find out how long you want your skirt. I wanted a 30 inch skirt so my tiers were 10 inches each.

I started with this tee shirt that I found at Walmart for $5! It fits my daughter well across the chest but is a little tight across the belly. So I decided a high waist that deemphized this area would be best!

I laid the tee shirt on my Rotary mat and measured three inches down from the bottom of the sleeve. That gave me plenty of seam allowance for attaching the skirt! Now just set that aside till later and save the bottom of the tee shirt for another project!

I found three pieces of material that I could use for this dress. I had a little less than a yard of this white piece and a little over two yards of a yellow piece and a green. Now the process and steps are the same for each piece of material so I am only going to write out these instructions once instead of repeating my self. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer!
This first pic is showing that I cut just a little off the bottom of my piece of material to make sure it was even. This is always the first step I take anytime I use my rotary mat and cutter....if things are even in the first place it will save you a headache in the long run!

Then I cut as many 10" strips as I could out of each piece of material.
**Note....Most of you can skip the next step or two...since I was using what I had and didn't buy what I needed I didn't think I would have enough of each color to make my tiers so I was going to mix them to get enough....however when it came down to it I had enough to do each tier in a separate I added some work to myself...but learned a neat trick in the process!

I then cut each strip into as many 10 inch by 11 inch squares that I could. As I said earlier I thought I was gonna mix them all up and the figured out that I didn't have too! I ended up with 16 white squares, 32 Yellow squares and 28 Green Squares.
***Note...OK I did make a mistake here....I should have made all my Green squares a little bigger to allow for the hem...I didn't so I just made do...I knew that if it looked too funny I could always add a little lace to the bottom! Mama D is NOT a perfectionist!!

OK now that I have all my cutting done....we need to start sewing. I have already explained how you figure out big around you need to make each tier. And since each of my squares was 10 inches wide....that made my job pretty simple. I just used 8 squares for my first tier (that's 80 inches and pretty close to the 76 that I needed...this is a gathered skirt so a little extra material just makes it fuller!), 16 squares of the yellow and all of the green!
**Now if you didn't cut all your strips apart like I would just have to measure each strip and use as many as you needed to make your tier. Sew each strip together until you made a circle and follow the rest of the steps.
And yes I realize that 16 plus 16 is 32 and I had 32 yellow squares and only 28 green ones....but it just didn't look right with the green in the middle....and as I pointed out's a gathered will just be a little less full on the bottom...and it turned out plenty full!

I then sewed each square together to form my tiers. When all my tiers were formed ....I started assembling them. For this type skirt it is easier to work from the bottom up. And for those of you who have sewn in the past I did something entirely backwards....I started with my hem.
This is my Momma would shake her head, my Grandmother would be horrified and my Home EC. Teacher would have flunked me Hem. I am a lazy sewer....and I don't like handwork...if I can't do it on my machine I would really rather not do it at I have come up with the following method of sewing a hem. First you run a Zig Zag stitch around the bottom of the garment. Heat up your iron and ironing board. then I take said garment and press the zig zaged portion of the hem up all the way around (about 1/4") then I go back and press a second time to get the depth of hem I need for the garment I am makings....this one I did about a 1" hemline. Now you can use your measuring doohickey and get this even all the way around....I just eye balled it...because in all my moving I have misplaced my measuring doohickey and my seam ripper! Then I take my garment to the sewing machine an straight stitch all the way around the top of my hem!  Quicker, Easier and much less time consuming than doing it by hand! You however create your hem however you would like!
Now you want to run your basting stitches (two of them) across the top of your tier. I learned the hard way that you want to do these in about 18" stretches....if you try to go half way around like I did on the first will be pulling your hair out before you get them all gathered and pinned!
After basting you want to start by gathering you material just a little and pining it to the next tier. This is where mine being in 10" squares came in made getting everything onto the next tier easier because it was premeasured. I generally start by pinning the sides together, then I divide that in half and pin it at the half way mark...I continue doing this until I have my material in manageable sections. I then gather and pin each section as evenly as possible and when I get done it generally requires little adjustment!
When everything is pinned to your a 5/8" seam all the way around the tier and finish the seam by Zig Zagging right next to it on the inside. Also remove you basting stitches.
You will repeat these instructions for tiers #2 and #1. #1 of course will be attached to the tee shirt! I also finish all my seams with a zig zag and trim each as needed to cut down on a little of the bulk around the tiers!
When I was done this is what my very happy little girl twirled around the kitchen with her proud Daddy looking on!

Please excuse the wet hair ....she had just gotten out of the bathtub!
Did I mention that this dress only cost me $5 for the tee shirt?? Well it did...even if you didn't have the fabric stashed away like I did it would only cost you a couple of yards of material and a little imagination. Of course the bigger the person the more material you will need. But my little one just loves her new Twirly Easter Dress that Mama made her...and Daddy just loved the price!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me....I am sorry for the lack of pictures on some of the steps...I got busy sewing and forgot to take pictures! Now I have to go get busy on some short for this kid! All the shorts I have found this season are too short....if they don't come down to her knees my 6 year old is not wearing them....but I am not gonna make her wear pants all summer! So I guess that BIG piece of denium I found the other day (I think I was gonna make a maternity dress out of it way back when) is gonna make my little girl some much needed shorts!

I hope you all have a very blessed Easter weekend!
God Bless,
Mama D

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