Saturday, January 14, 2012

January Craftivism Challenge and Sew-Along - Part 2

So the pillowcase that stays isn't really staying - it's on its way overseas!  Wow!

One afternoon, I happened to catch Sewing with Nancy on PBS.  She had a feature segment about an organization called Little Dresses for Africa.  If you go to Nancy Zieman's website, she shares the free pattern and directions to make a simple girl's sundress from a pillowcase.  She has instructions for making one with bias tape straps, which is really easy - a great next step project for a beginner.  You can use bias tape if you want, or not.  I use extra fabric from the pillowcase, or extra jelly roll strips.  You can make the dresses by repurposing old pillowcases and bed sheets, but please use common sense.  White pillowcases are not very practical, and they tend to be rather sheer (let's think modesty here).  Also, no flannel.  I also could not bring myself to make a solid black dress, and I also could not make one from a pair of khaki sheets I got on Freecycle.  The black ones made me think of funerals, and the khaki ones made me think prison uniform (yes, they really were that color).  I'll share what I did with the khaki ones next week.

Let's make that dress!  For our purposes, we will be using a pillowcase that I made with the pattern from last week, like the second one of the pair you made.  Some of the photos show bits a peach gingham dress I also made today - hopefully this doesn't confuse you.  Start by trimming 1/2" from the sewn, short end of your pillowcase.

Then cut 2 strips that are 2 1/2" wide.

Trim 1/2" from the seam edge of the strips.

Fold the pillowcase in half lengthwise, and cut the armhole using the size-appropriate template provided.  This pillowcase measured 25 1/2" after the strips for the straps were cut, so I used the small armhole template.  The dress will be a size 4 when finished, so the small template was the right size.

Next, you'll need to create the casing for the elastic.  Press the top edge under 1/4", then another 1/2".  This photo shows the 1/4" on the left and the second 1/2" fold on the right.
Stitch in place along the bottom folded edge.  You can use a straight stitch or a zigzag.  I use a decorative stitch like this.  Just be sure that this edge is very secure.  Do NOT stitch the openings!

Measure and trim your elastic.  I measure mine a bit longer than the pattern recommends because when I sew it in place, I leave a bit hanging out.  This is how I ensure that the elastic stays threaded through the casing but still have the correct measurement inside the stitching.  For a size small, you will need 2 pieces of elastic that are 6" long.  I cut mine at 6 1/2".

After cutting, pin a safety pin onto one end of one of the pieces.  Slide the pin CAREFULLY into the casing, being sure to keep your elastic flat.  When most of the piece of elastic is into the casing, stitch the other end in place.  I use a zigzag stitch, and do a forward-back-forward-back to make sure it ain't goin' nowhere.
When you have both pieces securely in their casings, it's time to attach the straps.  Take each of the 2 1/2" strips and press them in half, wrong sides together.
Then, open your strip back up.  You will now press the sides into the middle crease.  Do one side, then the other.  Then, press the whole thing one more time for good measure.

So now we need to get these straps onto our dress.  Whether you are using the bias tape or our homemade fabric straps, the steps are the same.  Find the center of your strap material, and pin it to the center of the armhole.  You can see that the "body" of the dress is inserted in between the layers of the straps.  Pin to fit the curve of the armhole, and be sure enclose the ends of the elastic.  Do the same for both armholes.
Before you stitch along the straps to finish them off and secure them to the dress, fold over the end about 1/4".  This will help keep the fabric from fraying.  Again, how you stitch them up is your decision - straight stitch, zigzag, or decorative.  I use a decorative stitch.

Congratulations - you are all finished!  This is what your dress will look like when it's done.

So now that you've seen the peach dress, too, would you like to know what I do on my own?  This is way easier and faster - you know my famous saying "Laziness is the mother of efficiency".

Add 1/4 yard of fabric to your original purchase/repurpose.  Be sure to cut the straps from this extra material.  Or, of course, you can purchase bias tape.  You will start to make a pillowcase to this point, where you stitch the long side together.

Match right sides, and stitch that long side, just like you did before.  Turn and press.  Fold in half lengthwise, and line up size-appropriate armhole template.
Cut your armhole, and continue on with the pattern.  This is what it looked like when it was done.

You can dress up your dress, or not.  Pockets, appliques, ruffles, lace - all excellent additions.  Avoid buttons and/or zippers.  These are hard to replace or repair if they fall off or are broken.  Also, you can make matching hairbands with extra leftover fabric.  Some folks have even made ruffles for socks!

Two years ago in January, 2010,  Haiti was hit with one of the worst earthquakes on record.  This is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world.  These folks had less than nothing, and what little they did have was destroyed.  Last summer, my aunt told me her church would be participating in a collection of these little dresses for missions in Haiti.  Having seen the segment on Nancy's show about the good that the dresses were doing in Africa, I knew that Haiti was where my dresses should go.  You can decide where yours should go.  Either way, send them, and thank you!

Oh, and be sure to leave comments with how many you make, even if it's just one.

And stay tuned for another twist!


Lori said...

How darling and for such an important cause!

Katmom said...

'Sew' cool and I love easy peasy sewing!

ElisabethAndrée said...

Lovely dress, nice color! Good job:)
Thank you for your sweet words on my blog.

MiaB said...

Thanks for this great tutorial on these really adorable dresses!! I'm your newest follower.. thanks for sharing this with our readers at Sharing Saturday.


Farmgirl Heidi said...

Another fantastic tutorial and what a worthy cause too. Thank you for sharing this important endeavor with all of us at the UFO ROLL CALL CHALLENGE. After I get my January vegetable garden prep complete this weekend, I plan to make a few and share about it. Thank you.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

I featured your Pillowcase dress today...