Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
Draft Your Cotton Wrap Dress
3 days before going to a wedding I realised I had nothing suitable that fitted so it was time to make a new dress! This one is made from body measurements and because it wraps doesn't matter if its not fitted. Simply pull the belt tighter to adjust!
What you will need:
Approx. 1 1/2-2 meters patterned cotton - I used cotton from HERE
1 meter plain matching cotton
Approx. 10 meters bias binding
2 sets of poppers
Plenty of thread
How to make it:
First off you need to make your patterns, which means you need to take some standard body measurements to make it. I buy cheap wrapping paper to draw on as you can get it as big as you like and it easily pins to clothes - plus it costs next to nothing and means you always have wrapping paper in the house for forgotten birthdays! These are the 3 main sections to begin with (sleeves come later):
The back body piece:
The front wrap body pieces:
You will also need a piece approx. 2 inches wide and long enough to easily tie around your waist as a belt.
Once you have these cut out, attach the 1 shoulder piece on each front wrap piece to the corresponding back body shoulder piece. You will need to stitch a basic running stitch to make the seam with patterned sides together. Make sure you are attaching them so that arm holes are facing the same way!
Once attached you can make the sleeve segments. Simply lay out open the shoulder seam and trace around the opening. Add a little extra for a seam. Decide what length you want your sleeve (by measuring from the point of the shoulder to the desired length) and measure around your arm at that level to decide how big an opening you want (make sure your hand will still fit through!!!).
Cut out and pin in place like so:
Sew it together (same as before - inside out, just a basic seam. Next you can attach 1 skirt section to each body section the same way at the waist like this:
It is much easier to attach the binding to the opening of the sleeve before sewing it into a sleeve shape, so attach this next. I like to use a bias binding sewing machine foot (available HERE) to save time and give a more uniform finish. You can use a standard foot but I find it takes a lot more time to get it looking perfect.
To make the sleeve line up perfectly, I sew the whole side in 1 go. That way any slight bodge ups in how you have lined it up get hidden under the armpit and nobody is any the wiser! So with your material inside out, sew the dress together on both sides of the back piece like this:
You should now have what basically fits like a lab coat! Curve the front edges of the skirt like this:
I then added bias binding to all raw edges except the length of the inner skirt, which after I had finished binding the bottom of the skirt, I folded the edge, pressed with an iron then stitched a hem down. You can do this either way. I just figured as nobody will see this part, it doesn't matter either way.
Next you can make your belt. This needs to be the length of your waist plus enough to comfortably tie it into a bow. I made mine 2 inches wide, then trimmed it again with bias binding. To give it extra strength (as it will be pulled on to hold the dress where you want it - and I didn't want to risk the binding coming away from the raw edge over time), I used a bias binding sewing machine foot to attach the binding centrally, then top stitched the edge. Any raw edges on inside seams can be finished with an over-edge stich to prevent fraying.
You will need to decide on the placement of the poppers before fixing the belt on so that you can hide them under the belt if like me you want to use quick fixing but using visible poppers like KAM snaps.
I placed a popper to hold the edge of each front body piece so that the waist would stay perfectly in line and any belt malfunctions would not end up in flashing anything! Try it on to pick the best spot for fixing.
To attach the belt, it will need fixing to all of the front overlapping body segment, most of the back piece, but none of the under overlapping front section. I would recommend pinning in place first to see how tightly it needs to be tied, as you will only be able to pull as far as the belt is free to adjust the shape of the dress.
Lastly, I finished it off with a little applique. I drew a flower and leaf pattern onto wrapping paper then with tailors chalk, drew round this onto some left over blue cotton and cut it out.
I used a medium zig zag stitch with a short stitch length to attach it. The trick here is to use a temporary fabric adhesive to hold the pattern in place and a piece of greaseproof paper under the fabric. This allows the fabric to glide around without gathering and will give you a much quicker, neater and stress free finish. Once completed, simply tear away the paper.
You now have a lovely new dress ready for showing off!
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