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Just Add Sunshine: Adding A Trim To A Plain Dress

When Mum and Dad were visiting a little while back, we went shopping in London and I wanted to replenish my summer wardrobe a little. I’ve been feeling in the mood for more day dresses recently you see. I tried on LOADS, but only came home with a few. The problem was that many of the dresses in shops these days are SUPER short. I’m not really in the habit of flashing my knickers at every Tom, Dick and Harry in the street so this meant that my choice was limited. I usually end up buying a dress that could be worn over leggings or thick tights (but in the summer I rarely want to be wearing thick tights, do i?). I picked up two stripy dresses, one red and the other navy. Nothing overly special, but i thought they were cute, albeit a bit plain. So i decided to experiment with the navy dress, and add a little sunshine to it, whilst at the same time adding length to keep my modesty in check! 🙂 Below is a photo tutorial (which means its a long post..sorry guys). I hope you can follow along. Disclaimer: I am NOT by any means a professional seamstress, but i like to play with my sewing machine every now and again. It’s a bit messy in bits, but I don’t really mind that. I hope you enjoy taking a peep at the tutorial.

Take a strip of yellow fabric fold in half lengthways and sew along the edge. I used a stretch stitch which kinda acts a bit like an overlocker.

If you need more length, do this twice and sew both together to create one lone strip of material. Once again I have used a stretch stitch to prevent unravelling of this seam.

Next set your machine to a long straight stitch and adjust the tension. As you sew the fabric will start to ruffle itself.

Let the machine ruffle the material of its own accord.

When you have done the entire length, it will look like this.

Find the bit where you joined the two pieces of yellow fabric together and pin it to the bottom of the dress, matching up the side seam of the dress with the seam in the yellow fabric.

With navy thread and using a straight stitch, sew the fabric to bottom edge of the dress, making sure to keep the visible length of yellow fabric consistent the whole way around. I kept a ruler at hand whilst doing this bit.

When you have gone the whole way round you will have two edges. Sew together with the zigzag stretch stitch once more, just like in photo 2.

Next I made the belt. I had some fabric left over and i also thought that it would tie the whole dress together. Here’s a photo walk through.

Take a Looooong strip of fabric and iron in half lengthways (right sides facing each other) and sew along the long edge with a straight stitch. Turn the right way out and iron flat with the seam in the middle. Next sew along the outer edges to neaten.

Fold a piece of fabric in half and draw around a leaf template with a pencil (i sketched the leaf shape freehand onto a piece of scratch paper). Sew along the pencil line, leaving one end open. Do this twice so you have two pieces. Cut notches and then turn right way out.

Take a rectangular piece of spare scratch fabric and sew the leaves to this piece. Pinch the fabric first so the leaf will ruffle a little.

To prevent the corners of the rectangle peeping out, tuck them back to create a point and add a few stitches to hold in place.

To make the know, take another piece of fabric about 5″ long and 2″ wide, fold in half lengthways and sew along the long edge. Turn inside out and sew along the edge to neaten. Next tie a loose knot into the fabric.

Match the two tails of fabric together and sew with a straight stitch.

Push one leaf through the knot and wriggle into place. The knot should sit snuggly in the middle.

Next find the middle of your belt length and sew a button hole. The button hole should be as wide as the knot tails (see photo below)

Tuck the knot tails into the button hole.

First I used a zigzag stitch along the edges of the knot tails to prevent unravelling then using a straight stitch, sew back and forth to attach to the belt. If you are careful you can sew over the top of the seam which is already there which gives a really neat result.

To finish I added another button and a button hole at either end of the belt so I could fasten it around my waist. I made the button fasten inwards (so the button is against my back) but as an embellishment I added a big fancy yellow button.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • angel April 25, 2012, 5:21 am

    Great tutorial!! The dress looks darling now!

    Another trick I learned for making a ruffle is to do a zig zag stich over upholstery thread. Then you gather the fabric as much or as little as you like along the uphostery thread and once you have it gathered as you like it you can sew it down.

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