Sunday, June 21, 2009

Homemade Dresses for the Girls!

This summer I have already altered two flower girls dresses for a friend and altered a few shirts and dresses for myself. I haven't had any time to sew projects at all this year. My biggest project still awaits: a diaper bag for a friend who's baby was born in DECEMBER!! I've probably had the fabric for a year, too.

Bad friend, bad friend!

So, although I said that was my next project, I got preoccupied with figuring out how to smock during a sewing night with my friend that I'll call Cherry.

I've had 1 yard of multiple fabrics since last year that I purchased for dresses for the girls. I made a handful last year, but never got to them all. I probably over-bought anyway. My girls only like to wear dresses, though, so I really need to have enough of them so I don't have to force them to wear shorts. Anyway, Princess Pea is 4.5-years-old and the dress pattern I have always used for their dresses doesn't quite fit on 1 yard of fabric for her because she's so tall now. I wasn't sure what I was going to do because I had many coordinating fabrics for the girls' dresses and I was going to be bummed if I couldn't have them wear them together.

My sewing expert mother-in-law, GrandmaK, came to the rescue! She found an adorable smocked dress pattern in a book from the library. You only needed 3/4 of a yard and it seemed pretty easy the way they described it.

During my sewing night I completed all my mending projects and all I had left was these dresses to try. (I didn't want Cherry to see me make the diaper bag, although she knows it's coming, so I had to find something else to do.) I probably read online and in a sewing book and practiced smocking for over an hour! I could NOT figure it out! My machine was not doing what the instructions said it should and I wasn't about to try to do it by hand! I was quite frustrated by the end of the night thinking I'd never get theses dresses made. But, after reading through the instructions one more time at almost 11pm, I decided to adjust my stitch length the opposite way, worked! Dorky me was adjusting it backwards!

I didn't get the dresses started that night because it was too late, but yesterday I didn't have anything better to do and I was curious to see how quickly they could be made. Working with elastic thread is a pain! They say hand-wind it. I did that, but then I got tired and decided to find a quicker way. So, I put the bobbin on the machine and ran it while I gave it some tension.

Now I know why they say hand-wind it.

The bobbin actually grew in size! When I tried to put it in the machine, it was too tall! So, I set up a new bobbin and held the tension while the elastic thread came off the warped bobbin onto a new bobbin. I figured I would just watch closely and stop if it started to warp again.

Wrong. There really is a reason why they say hand-wind it!

I am just too stubborn, I guess. This time the bobbin popped. So, I eventually hand-wound it. Annoying. After that drama I finally got started and it took me a while to get the hang of the elastic thread. I had to reinforce the ends 3 and 4 times and I had to adjust the tension often it seemed. In the end I got the hang of it. The first dress took 2 hours, the second took only 1.

I decided to start with these adorable ladybug fabrics. The girls picked them out last year. I like them, but knew I had other fabrics I would be really upset if I ruined, so I started with these.

I think they turned out great! I made them extra long so they would last two years, but I do prefer this style dress to be a little longer anyway. The other dress pattern I've used looks better right at the knee and usually won't last two seasons. Angelica Pickles' birthday dress was the original pattern. You can see it here.

The girls had fun posing for me. I never expected to finish them in time for church this morning! Believe it or not, the dresses were the first thing Angelica Pickles spotted when she came down the stairs this morning and immediately asked to put it on.

Two cute dresses for under $5, can't beat that!


J-momma said...

you know, i've seen the pre-made elastic style fabric at walmart. basically they sell fabric that has the top exactly like what the dresses you made are like and all you have to do it sew it together in the back and add straps. seems a lot easier to me. but then again, i don't sew.

Mommy K said...

Yes, but they are expensive pieces of fabric. I can make those dresses so cheap. Plus, I like a challenge every once in a while. It's fun to learn new things. And then I can make them in whatever fabrics I like. =)