I fear zippers. I haven't used them because they are daunting to me. Having to try and cut the back or side of a garment and add it in. Why do that when you can use stretchy material?? That's what I always thought.
When my daughter was only a few months old, I saw this dress (it was around March 2009) at Gap. (I found this picture of it online).
I LOVED this dress. I mean fell. in. love.
But it was $40 (or $45) - and I could not justify spending that on a dress she'd wear once and grow out of. But I have searched for that dress online (hoping it would be like, $20) and alas, it was not meant to be.
Enter Hobby Lobby. Yesterday. Going up to get my yard of clearance fabric that I found. Next to the cutting table, sitting in the cart waiting to be returned to it's shelf is this:
Are you kidding?? Vintage flower print that is almost EXACTLY like the one I loved and have never seen in the fabric store?? Why yes, I'll take that as a sign from my sweet mom in heaven that I should MAKE this dress for $5.99. I can hear a little voice in my head saying, Allie, you can do it, make the dress!
Then I hear another voice, "Allie, this isn't stretchy fabric. You'll have to use a zipper."
Yes, I'm a big melodramatic. But I was fearful. I inched over to the zippers, after having my yard of fabric cut, and looked them over. I chose a nice, 7 inch pink zipper.
Sitting at home last night eating dinner, I could hardly wait. I got the kids bathed (by the way - my daughter used the potty for the first time last night - hooray!), fed, and into bed; got the hubs convinced he wouldn't be hurting my feelings if he went and watched his movie without me; and I laid out my beautiful fabric.
This time, I had measured my daughter. First, around her chest. Then, for armholes. And of course for length. I keep these measurements on my sewing machine ;)
I carefully drew out a pattern (I didn't take pictures, but I'll post the general layout of cutting that I did below). Then I carefully cut out the top, and the skirt. I cut a long strip from leftover material for bias tape around the neckline; I used the sections I cut to make the arm/shoulder piece go in a little from the rest for part of the decoration on the front; I cut a small block for the ruffle; and I cut another long strip (one yard long) for the ruffle on the bottom of the skirt.
Depending your child's size, you may need more fabric. My daughter wears a 24 months, she's nearly 2, and this was actually a bit big. It ended up where it was probably a 2T/3T size, which is perfect because she can wear it awhile.)
So, here is the tutorial:
1) Make sure the fold of the material is at the top before you cut. That way, you don't have to sew the shoulder areas together; they are already connected. I sewed the raw edges of the sleeve down by turning them in and ironing them in place, then sewing. You could also bias tape the edges (which I may still do) or add sleeves. I am not good at making sleeves, therefore, no part of this tutorial will help you with that ;)
2) Turn the fabric so that the right sides are facing each other and sew down the little part that will be the sides of the top. Flip it back so the right sides are facing out again.
3) Cut a straight line down the back for the zipper.
4) Take the length of material you cut for the skirt (I made mine the whole yard long because I like the gathered look, but you can do it however you want. For more of a tunic-y look, you can use the same length of material as the top, and just cut it in more of a triangular shape when you cut it out).
5) Do a long stitch across the entire length, so you can gather it. Pull the strings so that the material gathers to about the same length as the top. This will take a little bit of time and effort, so that the match up. Turn the skirt inside out. Take the top, right side out and put it inside the skirt, so that the ends of the inside out skirt match up with the ends of the right side out shirt. Pin in place.
6) Sew the skirt to the dress, leaving about an inch of unsewn area in the back right in the middle where we will need to cut for the zipper.
7) Measure down the back using the zipper, and cut the extra length needed for it into your skirt. It should be an upside down "T" cut - so at the bottom of where the zipper will go, on the dress, make sure you cut across so we can fold the material.
8) Turn the dress inside out. Fold the material back on both sides where we will attach the zipper, and sew that material down from top to bottom. Then pin the zipper in place, so the hemmed lengths are directly up against the zipper. Sew the zipper to the material with a straight stitch.
9) Once that is done, gather the fabric together slightly near the bottom of the zipper and sew across so that it covers the bottom of the zipper and the zipper can't slip through and get hidden.
10) Fold the length of strip you are going to use for your bias tape for the neck and iron it in half. Then, fold each side in to that middle piece, and iron it again. Fold it in half, and pin it (so half the bias is on the inside of the dress, half on the outside) and sew it together and to the neckline with a straight stitch.
11) Take the 2 lengths you cut for the ruffle, fold them in half longways and iron, and then sew them together at both ends to make one really big circle! Pin the loop to the dress, making little ruffles here and there by folding the fabric. The loop should be laying flat against the bottom of the skirt, facing towards the top of the dress, so that when you sew the ruffle to the skirt the seam is hidden.
12) Sew the loop to the skirt.
13) Sew the pieces you cut out for the arm holes with right sides together. Put the flat edge against the top of the dress, and then use a straight stitch to sew it onto the dress while making a nice edging.
14) Sew the squares you cut for the ruffle together, right sides together. Put it right side out, use a loose stitch so you can pull it to make it ruffle, pin it in place down the middle and sew it with a straight stitch onto the dress.
15) If you want a lace waistline, take the lace you have and pin it to the dress, then stitch it to the dress (make sure you don't overlap the zipper!) Or, you can simply do a stitch about 1/4 inch above the waistline seam to make it look more professional, if you don't want lace (it would look like this:)
16) Make sure you pull out the loose stitches from the ruffle and skirt. You may need to use your stitch ripper - just don't rip the wrong stitch! And always remember to backstitch a couple times at the beginning and end of any length of stitch you are doing.
17) Decorate with buttons on the front if you wish, like I did on the front. I also put a button on the back, above the zipper, for decoration. Make your headbands or hairclips (I made both) with the extra material. Sit back, revel in your glorious work and eat a candy bar like I did ;)
And here is your finished product! (I know all my pictures have my daughter on the couch, but I'm usually taking them in the morning before we are outside, or in the evening after I've sewn something, lol!)