Self Drafted Dress For My Daughter

My last post was about my daughter and this one is as well, but so many changes and things have occurred between the two 🤣. She cut off most of her hair and donated it, her first phase of braces came off, she had a bad fall that resulted in a concussion, broken nose, whiplash, and full body aches and pains. She turned 11 and continues to grow out of clothes. She has been going to physical therapy for her body and concussion recovery, she had surgery to repair her nose break, and has slowly been getting back to regular life. She is such an amazing, tenderhearted kiddo, and I am so blessed to be her Mom. I love when she has an idea and I can make it happen. So when this beautiful fabric arrived, that I had plans for, and she saw it and could see a maxi dress, I did what I could to make it a reality.

The steps I took are very simple, and can easily be replicated into a skirt as well. I made this while our family was down with a week long flu bug, so my pictures are less than stellar, apologies for that, and I hope you can still see things clearly.

The first thing I did was measure for the finished length. So I simply ran a tape measure from her upperbust/underarm to her desired length (45″). Then I took several different elastic pieces and held them around her upperbust, to determine which felt the most secure and which fit best for her body. We decided on 1″ elastic (the exact one we used is EL57WH from Wawak). Once I knew the elastic width, I was able to add my casing measurements to the finished dress length.

For this elastic casing, I wanted everything enclosed so it would be more comfortable against the skin. I like to serge the top edge, then fold that 1/4″ over once. Then take that piece and fold it over the additional 1 & 1/4″ to make the casing. Because of this, I added 1.5″ to the finished 45″, plus 1/2″ for a hem, giving me a total length of 47″.

Since we were using elastic to pull it all together, we wanted to make sure we had enough fabric to give a slight gathered effect. To make it simple, we used the entire width of the fabric. So our final piece was 47″x 59″.

One of the things that grabbed both my daughter and my attention, was the single border print this fabric had. We both felt that it needed to be emphasized, and so we added a slit in the maxi, which allows for more movement as well as drawing the eye to that fun border. To determine the slit length, we just measured down from her upperbust/underarm to just above her knee/ mid thigh area (20″).

Now that we had all our measurements I was ready to cut. The first thing I did was to square up the fabric to make sure we had a pretty even starting point. Then I removed all the extra non printed selvedge.

Once it was squared up and selvedge removed, I measured out my 47″ length and then marked across the entire width of fabric (WOF). The fabric was wider than my cutting mat, so I used both my rotary and scissors, then cleaned up the scissor cutting since I’m not so good at that.

To sew it up you place the fabric right sides together, then measure out and mark your side seam/slit opening. We measured 20″ for my daughter, so I clipped it to just below that. Then I basted that to hold it together and for a quick length check before serging.

When making the slit you can do it several ways. For this fabric, print, and look I kept it simple and just serged it. I like to start at the slit, place the fabric under the pressure foot, and just start serging it up to the top of the dress. Then I tie off my serger tails. It leaves a nice finish, and since it kind of rolls the fabric into the slit, it keeps the slit more subtle. If you have basting stitches here, you can now remove them. Most of mine ended up serged in the seam, but those that didn’t, I removed.

As I said earlier, I like to serge the top of the elastic casing. So I did that next, being sure not to cut off any fabric. Then I folded that serged edge over, pressed it, and then folded it all over another 1.25″. Pressing and clipping as I went.

Once it was pressed and clipped I sewed an edgestitch all around the lower part of the casing, being sure to leave a few inches open so I could insert the elastic.

To determine the elastic length we started with her upperbust measurement and removed a few inches. Once we put it through the casing and added the fabric weight we determined we needed to remove more.

TIP: Since all elastic stretches differently and fabric weights will vary, I highly recommend basting your elastic and trying it on prior to closing your casing. No one wants that dress falling down 🙈🤣.

You can see my markings on the elastic where I basted, then marked it for the final stitching. Once I did that, I finished the edgestitching on the open portion of the casing.

I evenly distributed the gathers around the elastic, and then to prevent rolling during washing and wear, I added a few vertical lines of stitching, through the elastic, in a few places around the casing.

I was going to hem the dress, but my daughter wants me to leave it exactly as it is, fortunately with it being ITY, it doesn’t fray, and can be left unhemmed. It’s something that is easy to add at a later date if she changes her mind. Maybe even a rolled hem would be nice!

She was so happy when she tried it on and that makes my heart incredibly happy. I even think I have enough fabric to make myself a short skirt or a tank top. 🤞🏼

Fabric is Navy/White Single Border ITY from So Sew English Fabrics

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