Actually, believe it or not I've had a hard time finding a tutorial that suites me so I have come up with my own hodgepodge method of sorts to share.
Sidenote: I wrote these instructions for the sewing novice. I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, I just want to help teach a new skill to a few folks if I can. Experienced seamstresses, thanks for your patience!
- Pillowcase--Any old pillowcase will do. I've found all sorts of lovely ones at the thrift store but you can use new or one from your linen closet as well. The size of the pillow case doesn't matter so just pick something pretty.
- Double fold bias tape (aka seam binding)--get "Extra-Wide" if you've never used it before or make your own if you are a show off!
- Straight pins
- 1/4" Elastic
- A safety pin
- Thread--please match it to your pillowcase and seam binding. It will hide crooked stitches better!
- Sewing machine--this should go without saying, right? But also here I should include extra needles, bobbin, etc. Anything you need to make your machine run, k?
- Seam ripper--I hesitate to add this to the list because I am confident in your abilities--but even the most advanced seamstress has to rip out a few stitches here and there. It's best to be prepared.
- Iron and Ironing Board--Sewing is so much easier on crisply ironed fabric!
- Trim--this is optional but a little bit of rick rack or ribbon can really make this simple dress into something over the top cute.
1. Cut your pillowcase down to size.
Sizing will be based off of the Little Dresses for Africa website since that's where I'm sending my dresses but you can feel free to measure your little one to get a more custom fit. Just measure from shoulder to where you want the dress to fall and add about 1", give or take, for the top elastic casing.
2 = 16 inches
3 = 19 inches
4 = 22 inches
5 = 24 inches
6 = 26 inches
7 = 28 inches
8 = 30 inches
9 = 32 inches
11 = 36 inches
So, for example, if you have a 40" pillowcase and you are making a size 8 dress you will measure up from the hem 30" and cut straight across. You would be left with 10" of scrap fabric to add to that scrappy quilt you are planning to make "someday". Or is that just me?
2. Cut your arm holes.
Fold your pillowcase in half so that the side seams meet and the top cut edge is lined up.
If you are totally anal, go HERE for a template. Go ahead. I won't judge.
3. Make your elastic casing.
Make sure your iron is hot and ready to steam!
(The "wrong side" for sewing newbies is the side of the fabric that is on the inside of your garment--the side that is not meant to show. The outside of the garment is, conversely, called the "right side". See, this sewing thing is EASY!)
You can pin this down if you want. It's quicker if you don't but if it makes you more comfortable go for it! Me? I'm all about living on the edge. Pins cramp my style.
A good way to help sew a straight line is to find a place on your presser foot to line up that fold line as you sew. If that doesn't work, put a little piece of masking tape on your machine to help line things up. See how my fold lines right up with the inside of the left fork of my presser foot? Yep, that's how I keep it on the straight and narrow.
4. Bind the arms and make your ties
Take it slow. This is the hardest part of the process. If you get off of your mark a little there's no shame in ripping out the part that was messed up and doing it over.
Once you've sewn the binding to the dress, keep going to the end of the tie and then across the top fold just like you did the first time.
If you want, you can add a bit of trim at the hem. It's totally optional but I am a trim-aholic. A little trim can go far to make your dress look more professional.
But, if you are just over it at this point, don't sweat the trim stuff and move on to step number six!
For most trims, I find it easiest to just sew right along the line of hem stitches. Super easy way to keep your trim straight and even.
Trimming isn't limited to a line of ribbon or rick rack around the hem. Get creative. Add a bow, maybe some ruffles or a flower from your scrap fabric, sew on some buttons or do a fancy applique! The sky's the limit!
6. Step back and admire your handiwork. Pat yourself on the back because you are so awesome!
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you get stuck! I'll do my best to help out!