My apologies, my apologies. My blog is about a week late. The sad part is the dress really only took me a few hours to make, start to finish. Getting the picture of the finished product was a little harder. My friend was supposed to take a picture while we were at the beach but the truth is…we were having too much fun to make time for that!
Most of you have seen the “Tank Dress” on Pinterest. I know I’ve seen it a few places. I had made one a few months ago…here’s a photo, my friend, Tiffany (tbd photography…she does great work if you are looking for a family or personal photo shoot…interested, just ask me!) Don’t let my goofball face distract from her talent!
I designed a belt to go with this dress. It covered the tank to skirt seam.
So I had to up the ante if I was going to make it again for the Craft Challenge. One of my complaints with the first dress was the seam connecting the tank and the bottom. You do use elastic thread in the bobbin to make it stretchy but I still feel like the seam is gonna rip every time I put it on. I remember when I was little and I’d wear those “little girl summer tops”. Where the whole top is shirred. I thought that might make a good waistband…and it did.
I started with reading up on shirring/smocking. At Make It and Love It they have a great overview, Sewing Tip: Shirring/Smocking with Elastic Thread. I found it very helpful. Make sure to read it over before starting this project.
The materials for this were pretty simple…a tank top, about a yard of material (I recommend something lightweight), coordinating thread and elastic thread…that’s it!
I was a little concerned the material would be see through. I decided to double up the material just in case. To make it easy, I folded it in half so I could just hem the bottom. You could also flip that so you don’t have to hem and have a bubble bottom instead. This material has a pattern to it and I have OCD…that added a challenge but I made sure the top of the skirt was straight with the design on the material. I had to cut some of my sides off but it was worth it to me. I wasn’t sure what the width of the material would be once it was shirred. I just worked with all I had figuring too much was better than not enough to wrap around me. It actually worked out to be the perfect width around when I was finished shirring. On the left you can see one row of shirring. On the right you can see the multiple rows of shirring.
Once you’ve finished doing all the shirring, you can sew the sides together. Here you can see how I did my seams. I did the lining seam first and then went over the shirred area to do the outer layers seam.
Once the “skirt” is done, it’s pretty simple from there. Just pin your tank top so everything lines up evenly. I put the “skirt” seam in the back. When I sewed this together, I still used the elastic thread in the bobbin. Just to ensure that extra stretch when you go to put it on.
Finally, you just have to hem the bottom, if you didn’t decide to do the “bubble” method. My mom has taught me how to do a hidden hem (I’m sure it has a more technical term than that). I’ve included an image from my sewing machine. For me it’s stitch F. When you use this stitch you want to have your sewing machine set at its max stitch length. Basically, it does a straight stitch for so many stitches and then it does one zig-zag. That one zig-zag is what will catch the and come through to the front. Rather than having a straight seam all along the bottom.
I recommend ironing the hem into your fabric first. I’m not sure I can formulate a way to explain how this is done. I think images may be more helpful. I’m going to do my best here. You’ll take your ironed hem, so the fold is facing you. You will flip that under. You’ll still want about a 1/4 inch available. You will sew straight down the part still showing. When the machine does the one zig-zag stich, it will grab the material to the left. It’s important that it only gets the tiniest bit of this material. Once you’ve gone all around the bottom, you will flip it back. You end up with a stitch every inch/half-inch. See…
I’m really happy with the finished dress. It’s simple, comfy and only took me a few hours to finish. I think it took less time to make the dress than write this blog! 🙂 As you can see, I paired it with the necklace from Project 1 – Fabric Flower Bead Necklace (yes, I changed it — it now has one flower and a matching bracelet…a matching hair accessory may be on the way…I still have one more flower).