Friday, September 23, 2011

Dress Upcycle: Sundress with Elastic Thread AKA shirring

My sister gave me an 80's style maternity dress. Such cute fabric, but not a style I'd like to wear. I should have taken a photo of it before I took it apart, but here's the top.

Imagine a very full, ankle length skirt underneath it.

So I took off the skirt, as you can see. I'd just been reading all sorts of things in blog-land about elastic thread and I wanted to try it out for myself. So with trepidation, I loaded the thread in my machine and gave it a shot. I found out months later that I had loaded it wrong. But more about that later.

Before using the elastic thread, I created a great big rectangle tube that would fit around me with plenty of room for growth. (This was to accommodate a growing tummy.) The usual rule is about 1.5 times your hip width is a good looking gather. I did it twice the width.

I hemmed the top and bottom with a simple rolled hem. (Actually it was a double rolled hem, because this fabric qualifies as super fray-able)

I wound the elastic thread into my bobbin by hand, making sure not to stretch it. I was using an old singer sewing machine that my grandmother gave me. It is as old as my mother. It had a drop-in bobbin, which I've heard can be problematic. But my trusty old singer came through for me. If your drop-in bobbin causes problems, you should probably look at how tight the bobbin tension is, because that is what stretches the thread. That is what I did wrong.

So, using normal, white thread on top, and elastic thread on the bottom, I sewed in a circle about 1/2 inch from what I had determined was the top of the dress. It was a little gathered, but not a lot. But I didn't give up. When I reached the end of my first circumference of the dress, I simply aimed the foot down a little and kept about 1/2 inch between my foot and the last seam I'd sewn. This went on for what seemed like days. :). Each row I sewed made the row before it a little more gather-y. Finally, after about ten rows, I decided that it was long enough. So I stopped and made sure to really end with a knot, so the elastic wouldn't come undone.

The next step was straps. I discussed straps here, and I stand by what I said. :) Luckily I have a model that I could put the dress on and see where I wanted the straps. They don't look best or work best right across from each other. On the front they should be a little closer to the sides, and on the back they should be closer to the middle. This helps them to not fall off as easily, which prevents cursing.

Then I was done! Wahoo!

But wait, remember the top?
I took off the lace, unpicked the side seams and side arm seams, used the neck facing to make my elastic facing, made a random, uneven hem and made a skirt/dress for Kewpie Doll.
I rather love the way the sleeves make it flare in places. It was long enough that I put straps on it and Kewpie had a matching sun dress. Now, she wears it as a skirt.

Sadly, I couldn't find a photo of Kewpie wearing it. She wasn't one to hold still at this point in her life.

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