Recently I have been in a "DIY" phase, especially when it comes to clothing for myself. I can hardly ever find clothing that fits me well. Items are either too tight, loose, or too short. Then the other problem I have is the cost. That's why I have been making my clothes lately, watching for sales on Fabric, and loving every coupon I can find and use for everything else. The following dress was made of some such fabric that I found on sale at Joann Fabrics, and one of my husband's old dress shirts. Please note: This how to is based on using a men's shirt that was WAY to big for me, and how I wanted the dress to look. If you have a dress shirt that you want to use that fits, by ALL means use it, don't waste the money on buying a man's dress shirt just to follow the instructions to the letter. HOWEVER, if you do go buy a dress shirt, go to Goodwill and buy one. Save yourself some $$. At least where I live, Mondays are the best day to go because certain tag colors are 75% off!
What you'll Need:
Step one: Find fabric you like, and a dress shirt that matches. Doesn't have to be an old shirt, or men's shirt to work. A button up is what I used.
Step Two: Disassemble the Dress shirt. VERY CAREFULLY take your seam ripper or straight edge razor and rip the stitches of the seams around the shoulder/arm pit. If your shirt is like the one I used, it may be easier to just cut the sleeve off and hem it later. Rip the stitches of the collar at the base (where the collar buttons in the front for a man to wear a tie) as well; save this for later. The shirt I used had a pocket on the front, so I took that off at this time too.
Step Three: Put the dress shirt on inside out and pinch in the excess on each side, starting under the arms and working your way down, using your straight pins to pin where you want your top to fit. Having someone to help you with this or a dress form is VERY helpful.
Step Four: After taking the shirt off, grab your marking pencil. Lay your shirt flat on a table or ironing board. Taking your marking pencil, connect your pins, as if playing connect the dots. Remember: Women's shirts have slight curves in them to accommodate the bust, waist, and hips--> men's shirts do not. You will need to make sure to add these in if you didn't when pinning. If you have a Curved Ruler, this will come in very handy on this step.
Step Five: If you haven't already, thread your sewing machine with the matching thread, according to manufacture's directions. Once this is done, take your shirt that you just pinned and do a straight stitch about 1/4" from the line you just drew. This extra should allow for movement once the finished garment is on. Trim excess fabric with Scissors or Rotary tool. Make sure to leave at lease 1/2" of fabric as a seam, if not more (If you think you might need to let this out at a later date, leave more ;) ). Repeat on both sides. I stitched one side, trimmed the seams, and then marked the other side so that I knew they matched.
Step Six: Determine where you want the 'waist' line of the dress to be. I choose to have the waist line higher. This means a shorter total dress; a lower 'waist' makes a longer total dress. After figuring out where you want the waist to be, take your making pencil and mark a line from side to side. Cut 1" (or more if you like) below this line, trimming off the bottom on the dress shirt (Save for later). After timing the bottom off, you will need to tie off the treads that you just cut on the sides. With a straight pin, pull the treads out long enough to tie them off. This will keep the seams from coming open when the garment gets worn or washed.
*The Next steps can vary in order, but this is how I did them*
Step Seven: Grab the collar that you took off and saved. Taking your seam ripper, disconnect the two parts of the collar. The top of the collar should be two pieces of material sewn together. Taking the top part of the collar, pin the front parts to the front of the top of the shirt (with the top going in between the two pieces), pinning the rest of the way around, meeting in the middle. Note: you will have more shirt than collar; this is okay! Fold the excess to make a pleat. Straight stitch, leaving very little seam.
Step Eight: Taking the bottom of the dress shirt you saved from step six, find the widest part and fold it diagonally, to make Bias Tape for the hemming around the arm holes. You will need two pieces, one for each arm. The Bias Tape piece should be 1" wide, so that you can fold it in fourths; in half and each half in half so the raw edges are on the inside. You will put the raw edge of your arm hold in the middle of the fold. I used hemming tape to secure the Bias tape to the arm holes, making it easier to sew on evenly. Starting at the seam in the armpit, work your way around the hole with the Bias tape. I chose to leave the arm hole the size it was, but you can make it smaller if you like. If you used hemming tape, you can leave it as is, or do a straight stitch to make sure it is more secure.
Step Nine: Putting the shirt on again, or on the dress form, pinch in the middle of the back of the shirt. With your marking pencil, mark each side of where you pinched in the excess. this will form the sides of your back V pleat.
Step Ten: After taking the shirt off, with a needle and thread (color doesn't matter), do a running stitch from dot to the dot; gather the fabric together enough that a pleat starts to form below the stitching you just did. Pulling the two sides of the pleat together, pin to hold it in place. This will be the base of the V pleat in the back.
Step Eleven: Pulling down on the spot you just pinned, the fabric should fold in on itself, forming a large V. Pin Each side starting at the bottom, working your way to the top. Taking your scissors and snip the tread you used to do the runing stitch and take the tread out. Straight stitch both sides of the V.
From here it all depends on how much fabric you have. I had a yard and a half of the fabric i used for the skirting. It was 45" wide; I folded it in half cut end to cut end, making it folded in fourths (it was already in half because that is how it comes off the bolt at the store). I measured my waist and followed the instructions of found from a Pin on Pinterest on how to cut the circle out of the middle of the fabric. From there I pined the fabric, right side to right side, all the way around and did a straight stitch. To be honest, I had to sew and resew this part 4 times to get the right part of the skirting in the front. Because it is a handkerchief style, this meant there was a longer side and a shorter side. So, if you are not going to put the points of the fabric at the front/back of your dress, DOUBLE CHECK to make sure that the shorter side of the fabric is to the side, not the front, or else you will flash everyone when you bend down, and no one wants that. :) From there, zigzag stitch over all the raw edges of your fabric so they don't fray while wearing and washing. I used this Foot for that, as well as to put a small hem on the bottom of the skirt.
And there you have it! I know there are A LOT of steps, and I'm sorry for that, but I wanted you to be able to do this the easiest way you can, and learn from a few of my mistakes.
I am the owner and designer of and for Unique You Creations.