Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Girl's Dress from Fleece Pullover - Tutorial

Here is tonight's project.  This was pretty easy to make.  I made it after work, amidst dinner time, coloring and ... OK, so I skipped cleaning.  But it was totally worth it.  Here is my little fashionista showing off her new dress.  It's upcycled from an old fleece pullover, and could easily be modified.

I had an old lightweight fleece pullover that didn't fit me anymore.  Fleece is an awesome fabric to work with because the ends don't fray.  And lightweight fleece is even awesomer because it is easy to sew with a machine.  Plus, upcycling an old piece of clothing is awesomest because half of the work is already done for you!

I decided to make the back of the fleece into the front of the dress.  I thought it created an interesting neckline with the collar folded down.

Aside from a fleece you will also need:
matching thread
elastic thread (my best friend)
ribbon (I used 1.5 yards of grosgrain ribbon)

First step:  cut off the sleeves.  This very first cut should have you convinced that working with upcycled fleece is awesome (perhaps I mentioned that already).  I cut the sleeves off right next to the seam, so that the seam was still on my garment.  Because fleece does not fray I did not need to finish off the edges of that seam.  Yeah!

Now, my particular fleece was a woman's fleece that was slightly fitted.  So, it had seams down both sides of the bodice.  However these instructions will work even if you do not have those seams.

After removing both sleeves you should have something resembling a fleece vest.  Decide how big your armholes should be.  You can either chase the little rugrat around and then bribe her to stand still, or you can use an existing piece of clothing as a guide.  I chose the former.

As I mentioned, my fleece has seams down the bodice that happened to be exactly where I wanted the armhole to end.  I placed a pin there as a place marker.

What I did next was essentially adding a couple of pleats to each side.  I aligned the side seam of the pullover and the pin that I used to mark the bottom of the armhole.  I folded that flat and pinned both sides down.

Here's what it looked like after I pinned both sides into pleats.  This is the back of the pullover which is now the from of the dress.  I used my machine to sew these pleats flat on both sides.

This picture is very hard to see.  So, I will do my best to be descriptive.  I laid the dress down with the front facing me (which was once the back of the pullover).  Using a fabric marker, I drew a straight line from one pleat to the other.  I drew the line just underneath the pleats.  This line will mark where you use the elastic thread.  I wanted it to be just underneath the pleats so that the ends of the seams would be hidden.


Here's where the elastic thread comes in.  I love elastic thread because there are so many great things that you can do with it.  Basically, what I did was create one row of shirring.

My sewing machine is a Singer.  So, there may be some variations on how to use elastic thread with different machines.  All you have to do is wind the elastic thread around your bobbin by hand.  You don't want to stretch it out, just make it tight enough that there aren't any gaps or loops in your bobbin.  I loaded that bobbin like I would any other bobbin and left the top thread alone.

I sewed directly over the line that I just drew.  I tried to get my foot underneath the pleat so that the ends of my row weren't sticking out.  I guess that didn't really matter in the end because that part is covered with ribbon.  I only did this to the front.  I didn't think the back needed it, but you could do it to the back as well.

I used the seams of the arm cuffs as belt loops for my ribbon.  I just carefully cut them off just as I cut off the arms.  Again I didn't have to do any finishing there because I cut right along the seam (yeah!  fleece is awesome).

The top of the belt loop goes on the inside of the armhole bottom.  Sew that part first.  Determine how big you need the belt loop to be.  It should be slighter bigger than the width of your ribbon.  Sew that down next, right along the side seam of the dress.

You should now have something that looks like a dress.  I cut the ends of the ribbon into an inverted point.  That is totally your call.  But you must heat seal the ribbon so that it won't fray.  If you haven't done this, it sounds scary, but it's not.  Just run the ends of your ribbon over a lighter or candle quickly.  I do this a few times.  It will keep the ends from fraying.

After I put the ribbon through the belt loops I did one final thing.  In the front of the dress, I used a needle and thread to tack the ribbon to the dress just above the shirring, right in the middle.  That will help keep the ribbon on and in place.  I tied the ribbon into a big bow in the back.

Voila!  A new dress and a dirty house.  At least I have my priorities straight :)

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