So I blog-stalked for about a year before I decided to start my own. I've seen so many wonderfully crafty ladies take an existing garment and recreate it for themselves and/or their children. I've been sewing from patterns since high school, and am very comfortable with professional patterns and detailed step-by-step instructions. This summer, my daughter wore a super-cute sundress that finally inspired me to take the no-pattern plunge.
Here is my little cutie wearing the sundress this June. There is still lots of growing room in the bodice, and overall, it seemed to have very simple construction. Annelise had a bit of a growth spurt (height only!) this summer, so the only real change I needed to make to the original dress was to add a bit of length.
The amount of fabric you need will depend on the size of garment you are recreating. My original dress is a roomy 18M. I needed 1/3 yard each for the bodice and the 3 skirt tiers (got my fabric at Hobby Lobby - love their coordinating collections). I also used 1/3 yard for the bodice lining (some muslin I already had).
I started out by folding the bodice in half, placing the fold at the edge of the paper, and tracing the edges. I traced all the way to the side seam and extended the side seam about 2". Then I drew another line 5/8" outside the edges (professional patterns call for a 5/8" seam, so that's what I'm comfortable with).
Here are the front and back bodice pieces all traced out.
Next I marked the button and buttonhole placement. The original dress had the buttonhole on the front piece so the decorative bow would hide the button. I will be using a decorative button that I want to be seen, so I'm going to put the button on the front of the bodice and the buttonhole on the back.
Here are my button placement markings:
Cut out your bodice pieces. To make the most of your fabric, fold each side in to the middle to get two folds - one for each bodice piece.
Cut two matching bodice pieces from your lining fabric.
With right sides together, stitch along the arm, top, and neck seams. Do not sew the side seams yet. Trim the corners near (but not through) the corner stitching. Clip the neck and arm curves close to (but again, not through) the stitching.
Turn each bodice piece right side out and press. Use something small to poke out the corners (just don't use anything sharp that would punch through the fabric).
Next, fold under 5/8" of the lining. This step will make sense later. (On a side note, one of the best things about being pregnant is the way prenatal vitamins make your nails grow!)
Fold out the side seams and match up the front and back bodices.
Pin together, folding out the lining you pressed earlier. Stitch the seam.
Press the seam out, then repeat with other side seam. Your bodice should now be kind of a circle.
Here's the finished bodice:
Next, I determined the length for each of the skirt tiers. The longest tier on the original dress was about 5" long, so I added an inch for seam allowance and cut all my tiers 6" long.
The tier width was 23 1/2", and I added an inch for seam allowance.
So each tier was 6" x 24 1/2". Cut two pieces this size for each tier.
Sew the two pieces for each tier together at the side seams. Finish the raw edges (serge, zigzag stitch, or cut with pinking shears). Each tier should end up looking like a big circle.
Sew the three tiers together and finish the raw edges.
Hem the bottom tier edge. Fold up and press 5/8", then fold in the raw edge to meet the pressed edge. Stitch close to the top edge all the way around.
On the top tier, sew gathering stitches at 1/2" and 1/4". Do not trim the loose threads. I like to break the stitching at the side seams. It's easier to gather half of a skirt instead of the whole circumference.
Pin the skirt to the bodice, matching the side seams (leave the lining free). Pull your gathering stitches until the skirt and bodice circumferences match. Spread the gathering out evenly and pin to bodice. Stitch the seam. Check the bodice to make sure it's still smooth, then trim all the loose threads.
Here is the reason for pressing up the lining earlier. Fold the lining down over the gathered seam and hand-stitch, being careful not to let the stitching go through to the bodice front. (This is the most tedious part of the whole dress. Kick back and catch up on House Hunters.)
Transfer the button and buttonhole placement markings to the bodice. Sew the buttonholes and sew on your buttons.
And here it is - my first garment without a pattern. Not bad, if I do say so myself. It's hot enough now that Annelise can wear this as is for another month or so. When the weather gets cooler, I will pair it with a long sleeve shirt and leggings or tights.
And now that I've got the bodice pattern drawn up, I've already got plans for a candy corn top. Next time!