30 Days of Sundresses – Pintuck Front Dress

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Melissa from Melly Sews (also an Austinite, yay!) asked me to participate in this year’s 30 Days of Sundresses. It’s a whole month packed with cute tutorials for women’s and girls sundresses to start off your summer.

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For my tutorial I hacked a simple dress pattern and added a center panel of pintucks in the front along with some little waist ties to help give the dress some shape. I think it turned out pretty cute! And I’ve always wanted to have a reason to sew pintucks on something. It adds some extra interest to an otherwise plain dress.

The fabric is a Valorie Wells cotton voile I’ve had in my stash for ages (yay stashbusting!).
The pintuck sewing can be time consuming but the rest of the dress is easy.

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You Will Need

  • A woven tank style dress/shirt pattern, preferably without closures. A dartless design or one with side darts works best. A good pattern to start with might be Sew Caroline’s Tank Dress or even lengthening Grainline’s tiny pocket tank. I modified this Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern (it had gathering at the neck so I took out the excess width in front).
  • Ruler
  • Scissors (and a rotary cutter if you have one)
  • Chalk or fabric marker
  • Tracing paper and pencil
  • Sewing machine, fabric, matching thread, needles, etc
For this dress you to take need a few measurements:
  • The width of your pintuck panel (mine’s 6in wide). Add seam allowances on either side.
  • The length the pintucks will extend. I made mine end about hip level, the loose fabric gives the bottom of the dress a little flare.
  • The width of your tucks. I went with 1/4in.
  • Your waistline point on the pattern pieces (to add the ties) and your waist measurement (to know how long to make your ties).
  • And the length of the inner seam line on the front piece (the length of your tuck panel).
Adjusting the Pattern
Your dress pattern probably has just two main pieces – front and back. We’ll only be altering the front piece.
Start by tracing a copy of your front pattern piece.

Measure in from the center front half the width of your tuck panel (or 3″ in for a 6″ wide panel) and draw a vertical line top to hem. This is your new seam line.
Then add your seam allowance out from that line and cut along the new line. Now you have your new front pattern piece complete with seam allowances!
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Making the Tuck Panel

I recommend sewing the tucks right into the fabric and then cutting out the panel piece after you’re finished. It’s easier to sew a big batch of tucks because you don’t have to worry about being exactly precise with your tuck measurements and you can cut out your panel once you’ve sewn the width you want.
Figuring out how many tucks you need takes a bit of math. I wanted 1/4″ tucks with 1/4″ space between them so counting both sides of a tuck it’s 1/2″ plus 1/4″ of space so 3/4″ (or 3x the width of a tuck for one tuck and a space). So for a 6″ wide panel you’d end up with about 18 tucks (3 x 6 = 18). Mine has 16 because I just eye-balled my tuck sewing so the space between each tuck is a little wide.

(preparing your fabric for sewing tucks)

Sewing the tucks is pretty simple. Begin by cutting a straight line across the top of your fabric perpendicular to the selvage. This will be the top of the panel. Then mark with chalk or a marker another perpendicular line at the bottom of the length of your tucks. This will be the the stopping point for the tucks, but not the bottom of the panel. Then draw a third perpendicular line marking the bottom of the panel piece (don’t forget hem allowance!). Cut along this line.

Start at one side and work your way across. Be sure to give yourself a few inches off to the side to allow for seam allowances and wiggle room.

Fold the fabric vertically along the grainline and press.

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(sewing my tucks)

Stitch 1/4″ away from the fold, back stitching at your end point.

Yay first tuck is sewn! Next use your ruler to fold the fabric vertically 1/2″ away from the previous stitching line. Press and sew 1/4″ from the fold. Now you have two tucks with a 1/4″ space between them. Repeat until you have enough tucks to fill your panel width.

With chalk or a marker draw your seam allowance on either side of the outer tucks and cut out your panel piece.

Making the Ties

To make ties long enough to wrap around and tie in the front I cut two lengths of bias tape from my fabric that are 1.5 x my waist measurement. One inch wide bias strips will result in 1/4″ wide ties.

Colette has a great tutorial on cutting continuous bias tape. Once you cut out the tape fold and press it in half lengthwise then fold each raw edge inside and stitch the tape closed. You can alternatively just buy pre-made double fold bias tape and stitch it together.

You can finish the bottom end of the ties by tucking the ends in and stitching them down or you could tie a little knot at the or even add a big bead to the bottom.

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Assembling the Dress

Pin one of the ties to the waistline mark on the inner seam of the new front piece, right sides together, baste.Then pin the edge of the panel piece to the edge of the inner seam of the new front piece, right sides together and stitch.

Repeat for the other side of the panel.

From there you can assemble the dress like normal – sew the side seams and shoulder seams, finish seam allowances, add bindings or facings to neck and armholes, and hem.

If you find the front of the dress is gaping, just take out the excess from the front pieces along the panel seam line.

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Give it all a final press and when you wear the dress wrap the ties around your waist and make a little bow in front!

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Thanks to Melissa for hosting this fun event! Now head over to Melly Sews to see all the other dress tutorials (I’m almost the last blogger for this month so you’ve got 28 more inspiring dresses you can peruse). And you can even enter to win a giveaway from Funny Fabrics!

Sleeve Tab Tutorial

Recently I made a Grainline Archer button down shirt and added these little sleeve tabs (which I think everyone agrees to call them that now, which is alright by me) to help keep my sleeves rolled up and to add a little bit of extra style.

I wrote up this tutorial so you can easily make tabs for your Archer or any other shirt for that matter. I added my tabs so that my sleeves roll up to about elbow length but you can add them anywhere on the sleeve, this was just how I did it.
 
Important: Add tabs before sewing your sleeve!

Cut 4 rectangles 7.5″ by 2″. 1/2 seam allowances are included on all sides.

Interface two of those rectangles.

I angled the corners on my tabs but you can leave them rectangular or curved, whatever you like.

Right sides facing, pin one interfaced rectangle to one non-interfaced rectangle. Stitch around three sides leaving one short side (the non angled, side) open.

Clip corners, grade seams and turn right side out. Topstitch 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the edge all around the rectangle.

On the closed short side stitch a vertical buttonhole starting about 1/2″ from the edge.

On the open short end of your tabs, fold it under to the wrong side about 1/4″ and press. (Oops, I accidentally drew this short end like it was stitched, you can stitch it or not, doesn’t matter, just fold the short end opposite your buttonhole)

On your sleeve pattern piece, on the wrong side, draw a vertical line down 7″ from the sleeve cap’s  shoulder notch, then move over 1″ towards the front of the sleeve, mark this spot. (If you don’t move them towards the front a little bit they’ll look like they’re on the back side of your arm. Mine are moved slightly forward and they look like they’re just right on the center of the sleeve.) You can pin the tab temporarily and try it out to adjust the placement.

Wrong sides together place the center of your folded tab edge on your marked sleeve spot.

Pin and stitch a square.

On the right sides sew your button in the center of the stitched square.

Repeat for the other sleeve then stitch up your shirt like normal.

You can see my tab through my semi-transparent fabric when my sleeves are down to get an idea of how they’re supposed to look.

If you want to make epaulettes it’s the same idea except on your shoulders. Stitch the unsewn short end into the sleeve cap seam and add a button along the shoulder seam line near the collar.

Pretty easy right?

Adding Bra Strap Carriers to your dresses and tops

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This is my new favorite method to making bra strap carriers. I’ve heard these called many things – carriers, holders, lingerie strap-straps, whatever. Basically they’re belt loops for your bra straps.

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Do you have shirts that constantly slip off your shoulders when you wear them? Or the other way around – do your bra straps refuse to stay in place? These nifty things help with both those problems. I’ve added them to clothes like the ones above that have wide or deep necklines. Attaching your shirt to your bra straps really helps and you can add these to clothes even after you’ve made them.

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You’ll need two sets of sew on snaps, thread, scissors, very narrow ribbon (I’m using 1/8″), and your sewing machine.

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First, stitch the bottom part of the snap to your shirt/dress on the inside of the shoulder seam. I’m sewing it on to a facing but you can also sew to the lining or the seam allowances, just don’t stitch through to the outside.

Start with your knot underneath the facing/seam allowance if you can, you want to reduce bulk around the snap so the snaps can hold together well. I made a basic blanket stitch around my snap and tied my knot under the facing when I finished.

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Next cut a 2.5″ length of ribbon (more if you’ve got really wide bra straps, less if you’re working on a tank top or something with narrow shoulder straps) and thread it through the upper snap and match up the edges of the ribbon.

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Attach the upper snap to the bottom snap and pin the ribbon flat along the shoulder seam.

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Using a short, narrow zig zag stitch, sew over the ribbon close to the edges. Don’t stitch across more than two or three times or else you risk putting too many holes in the ribbon. Trim your ribbon ends if needed.

Repeat for the other shoulder.

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Now when you wear your dress/top you can unsnap your carrier, tuck your bra strap under and snap it all back in place.

The reason I like this ribbon method is because I used to use a length of serger chain but sometimes the threads would break or come untied from snap. Threading the ribbon through the snap helps reduce bulk compared to tying a knot at the snap.

Holiday Ornament Exchange – the tree!

Holiday Ornament Exchange

Things are a little low key at my house this Christmas. We put up a little artificial tree with some colorful vintage ball and only my most favorite ornaments, including the new ones from the Holiday Ornament Exchange!

Holiday Ornament Exchange

I loved getting all the cute little packages in the mail with nice notes! Opening each one really got me into the Christmas spirit! Even my mail man was jolly when he delivered them one after the other.

Holiday Ornament Exchange

You can take a look at my ornament DIY over here.

Or see everyone else’s great tutorials:

Jen at Grainline Studio
Kelli at True Bias
Maddie at Madalynne
Megan at Megan Nielsen
Miranda at One Little Minute
Mika at Savory Stitches
Sonja of Ginger Makes
Suzanne of My Beau Baby

Big thanks to Kelli for inviting me to participate and all the other lovely ladies who made and sent ornaments!