10 3 / 2012
Making your own clothes can be time consuming, so if you don’t have the drive for it, it probably isn’t worth the money you save. However if, like me, you would love to own pretty expensive Lolita dresses but are not willing to throw £300 at brand, learning to make your own dresses can be wonderful.
This is not a pattern for a dress, but an idea for how to make your own so do not, and I repeat, do not, cut these shapes straight in to your expensive material before you know if your pattern fits you. Find some old material or buy the cheapest stuff you can find. You will need approximately 2m of fabric.
You will need 6 sections to make your bodice. For every measurement I give you, you should assume I’m adding “plus a few cm for seams”.
Firstly, the rectangle piece for the front. The length of this should be the length you want your bodice (experiment a bit with this to see what looks good- I always accidentally make them too long) and the width should be the distance from one boob to the other.
Next, the ‘boob’ pieces. You need two of these, one for each side. The curved part makes the dress fit around your boobs, so adjust appropriately. It may be a good idea to do as I did, take a picture of yourself from the side and draw the outline on to the picture to get an idea of the shape you will need.
After that, the side-back pieces. These are almost rectangular, but the width at the top of the piece should be a cm or two bigger than the width at the bottom to account for your waist. Once again, you need one of these for each side.
For the back, you have several options- zips, corset back etc. I will be doing an elasticated gathered back because with this method, you don’t have to worry too much about making the whole bodice fit you.
Cut a piece of material that is the same height as the side-back pieces but 4x the width. Then you need your elastic. Thin (less than 1cm) elastic works best. You will need one piece for the top of the material, and then the rest of the strips of elastic should be spaced about 5cm apart, stopping just short of the end of the bodice. Each strip should be half the width of the material.
We will leave the piece at the top of the material for last. Start on the second piece, placing it about 8cm down to leave room for a hem (I haven’t done this in the picture, mine’s only about 5cm down. Whoops!). Sew the end of the elastic as normal, then take your elastic strip, stretch it as far as you can, and sew along it while keeping it stretched. As soon as it is through the machine, you should see it start to gather. Continue like this until you reach the end of the elastic, then repeat for the other strips.
Here’s what it should look like after one strip!
For the top of the material, sew the hem, leaving a ‘tube’ for the elastic. Pin one end of the elastic at one end of the hem and slide the rest through the tube, gathering the material as you go. Sew over the elastic to secure it at both ends.
Leave the bottom of this section ungathered, we will deal with that when we do the skirt!
Now pin your whole bodice together to see how it fits you. Even with the gathered back, it is unlikely to fit first time, so pin the parts that need taking in and adjust accordingly. It is much harder (usually impossible) to adjust to make something bigger, so always cut your pieces bigger than you think you will need.
The skirt is one piece, a rectangle. The height should be the length you want the skirt and the width should be 2 or 3x your waist (depending on how much poof you want). First, sew the two ends of this rectangle together to get the beginnings of your skirt shape. Take the top of the back of the skirt and sew this on to the bottom part of the back section of the bodice (where you have left the bottom ungathered). Grab another strip of elastic, the same length as before. Place this along the inside, rough part of the seam you just created and sew it with the same method that you used for gathering before. This will leave the back section of the skirt gathered.
(I got a picture to show what I mean by the rough part of the seam.)
For the rest of the skirt, we won’t use elastic. Take a needle and sew as pictured around what remains of the top edge of the skirt, making sure to secure the start of the thread. Once you reach the end, pull the thread and push the material back to gather. Adjust this until the top of the skirt is the right size to attach to the bodice (pinning as you go along to help). Sew this on to the bodice, hem around the bottom of the skirt and the top of the bodice, and you have a fabulous dress!
Straps are optional but recommended because they hold the dress up nicely, but I won’t cover them here because they’re pretty simple. Drop me and ask if you want any help with them! :)
10 2 / 2012
I have a number of old tshirts that I have bought in a moment of madness (most of them because they have something nerdy on the front) or received that do not come even close to fitting me. My victim today is the tshirt I got when I was part of the Japanese Society dance team, which I would love to wear but despite being the right size, it is the most shapeless awful tube of a tshirt I have ever seen. So I decided to make it more wearable while providing you guys with a tutorial!
1) Put your tshirt on inside out, then pin down the sides as tight as you want your new top to be, baring in mind that you will have to get out of this in a second. For this reason, place your pins facing downwards so they dont stab you on the way up.
2) Using a sewing machine (or hand-sewing, if you’re brave enough) sew up the lines you’ve just marked out. Make sure to cut the now spare material close to the line you’ve sewn so it doesn’t make awkward bumps when you turn it the right way around.
3) Turn your shirt inside out, try it on and admire your fabulous new sexy top :D You can stop here you want to or go on…
4) I wanted a tank top, so I cut just on the inside of the seams for the sleeves, then cut out the neck.
5) It may go a bit baggy around the armpits at this point, depending on the original shape of the tshirt. Don’t panic, just sew up the places marked by pins until it fits better:
6) Fold over the edges and hem them so it’s all neat and your top is finished! :D