Tuesday, 11 August 2015

How To: Lightweight Pleated 1/2 Circle Dress

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The results of how long I can go without making something are in: serious anxiety starts to develop after 3 weeks of life without sewing. After this project I can vividly imagine how an addict, regardless of their state or capacity, crawls to their dealer, naked, in a blizzard if they have to, to get a fix. I dragged W on my fabric hunting mission to downtown Amman in toasty +38°C conditions, while my persistent lower back disc problem had just returned and I could barely walk. I could hear the man at the store make concerned-sounding comments to W in Arabic while I limped between the rows of fabric, probably something about crazy dying lady shopping for her own funeral gown materials. Also, due to our temporary living arrangements I have no sewing machine at the moment, so I came up with imaginative ways to avoid sewing as much as I could in the making of this dress (thank you, inventor of fusible hemming tape). And as you can see from the materials, I didn't even have the right coloured thread. But where there's a will, there's a way. 

 photo 0 Tools.jpg
Fabric (for an over-knee length I used 2.5 m, and my fabric was a cotton-polyester blend, super lightweight)  |  Scissors  |  Fabric marker/pencil  |  Thread & Sewing machine (or if you're looking to suffer like me, a needle)  |  Pins  |  Didn't make the pic, but measurement tape + fusible hemming tape (was absolutely vital for me to make this without a sewing machine) + optional: fray-stop glue

I. Trace and cut out the dress - I made a half-circle, and if I haven't made it clear enough yet, this is the app to use for circle skirt math. To make sure I had enough circumference for the pleats, I plugged in the max number the app can handle, assuming a 'waist' (even though in this project it's actually the above-bust circumference) of 100 cm. The length of my dress was about 80 cm.
 photo 1 Cut.jpg
II. Make sure the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, and sew the back seam. Then fold the dress flat so that seam is at the middle on the underside like this:
 photo 2 Back seam.jpg
.. And you can cut a bit of shape to the neckline and back if you don't want it to be just a straight line.
 photo 3 Cut shape.jpg
III. Then for the pleats. Here I ironed them at equal intervals on the back and the front, and secured in place with a small piece of fusible hemming tape under the fold.
 photo 4 Ironed pleats.jpg
IV. I then made my bias tape but cutting a long strap of fabric about 3.5 cm wide, folding in half with iron, and folding the two sides again to create the tape. You need enough of this to go around the pleated top circumference of the dress, as well as for 2 straps. To make the straps, I just placed a thin strip of the fusible hemming tape in between the fold, and ironed.
 photo 5 Bias tape.jpg
IV. For as little sewing as possible, I attached the bias tape to the dress at the top with the fusible tape, inserting a thin strip of it on both the front side under the tape, and went through the same process for the reverse side. I then sewed on the straps, making sure they were fastened to all the layers (since the bias tape covering the raw edge of the fabric and the pleats is only attached with the fusible tape, it won't handle the tension of the strap well).
 photo 6 Done.jpg
For the hem, I would've done a regular seam to finish it off, but sewing that kind of distance was really not getting me excited. So I just went around the hem with some fray-stop glue.. Which actually ended up preserving the flowy quality of the fabric much better.
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I would love to hear what you think and learn about your DIY adventures! If you use one of my tutorials, tag me on social @contour_affair, I'd love to see!


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