My first dress

January 13, 2012 § 11 Comments

This isn’t an original tutorial since I got the idea from a lady after my own heart, Rachael at Talk2TheTrees. I’ve seen many tank top dress tutes going around but hers was the first one I saw that didn’t require me to take measurements (hah!). So despite me still learning to cut from patterns and take my own measurements, I got to make my first dress, yay!

Back story: Sandy got me this gnarly ao dai from her trip to Vietnam. It’s similar to a cheong samΒ but meant to be worn with loose-fitting pants underneath. I’ve never had the guts to go out and wear this, mostly because who wants to look like a Miss Saigon reject walking under the desert sun? But I thought it was too pretty to waste so here we are at Step One of the ao dai/tank top dress refashion:

Hope your friend doesn’t kill you and cut the top (I’m sure I’m one of the very few loony non-Vietnamese out there who owns an ao dai so use any form-fitting top) to your desired length. I cheated here and used the ends of the ao dai’s gold paneling as my guide. Worry a little about what Sandy will say about me defacing her gift, and then set aside.

Now cut the cloth you’ll be using as the skirt part of the dress. Rachael has a better guide for doing this part so check out her link. I have no idea what kind of cloth this is but I saw it and immediately thought I could use it for this project so I got it πŸ˜€ It came in almost 2-meter width and the folds it came in from the fabric shop was still too long for me so I put the cloth around my body and marked an area about 2 inches above my knee and cut from there. Set aside the ends, we’ll be using those later.

I’m not really into the prep parts of the program but I know I have to go through them to get to the fun part, actually using the sewing machine . . . hooray! Sew the open ends together so you’ll end up with a rectangle of fabric. Mine, I found out, easily frayed, so I zigzagged the edges too. Like zis:

Now baste (hah! learned a new term this week obviously) the edge of the fabric that will connect to the bottom of your top. Pull the thread and make instant ruffles πŸ™‚

To be perfectly honest, I lost a bit of steam after this because when I gathered the ends together it didn’t look like I would fit through the skirt so I tried it on and adjusted the “pleats” from there.

 

And now we’re ready to put the dress together. My ao dao came with a zipper at the back so I aligned the sewn edge of the skirt with that for a neater look and got back on the machine.

Once that was done, I got excited that it did somehow look like a dress now so I tried it on:

Weeeee! And sorry if I don’t show my face in these tutorials. I start sewing as soon as I get out of bed, so . . . Anyhoo, we’re not done yet. Here’s where those strips we cut off earlier come in handy. I ended up with two strips but we’ll only need one. Sew around the edges on the wrong side of the strip and round off the ends, but make sure to keep a small opening on one of the ends so you can turn the strip right side out.

I used a chopstick to get the fabric through the opening and then sewed along the edges to flatten the whole thing, and we’re done! Instant belt. Mine was about 5 inches wide so I was able to scrunch it up into a more interesting shape. You can either just tie this in a bow at the back or actually sew it on for a more finished look. I think I’m going to make another sash/belt in contrasting fabric so my waist gets a bit more definition, but that’s for another day πŸ˜‰

 

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