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The Twirly-Whirly Dress Tutorial

(Giveaway going on in next post!!!)

Wow, my first tutorial. I am a little nervous. Okay, here goes nothing!

First things first-- supplies. You will need a seam ripper, elastic thread, 1/2 inch elastic, 1/4 yard of coordinating fabric and a womens tiered skirt. The skirt should have a lining, an invisible side zipper and several tiers.

#1- Pick out the zipper. Some zippers are easier than others to remove. Most of the time you will have to unpick the zipper seams as well as a short distance on the top edge of the skirt in both directions. Once you get it all out, it should look something like this:

#2- Now we are going to sew up that hole we have made. Start with your top edges (if you needed to unpick them). Sew each one back together, using the existing seam as your guide. Then, sew up the zipper hole, again using the existing seams as your guide. Now you should have your skirt looking exactly like it did when you purchased it, only no zipper!

#3- We are going to make an elastic casing at the very top edge of the skirt. I used 1/2 inch elastic, so I measured and pinned 3/4 inches down from the top of the skirt, like so:

Ummm, oops! Somehow deleted that picture-- anyway, you just want several pins around the skirt through both layers so that you sew in a fairly straight line. Leave about an inch opening so that you can thread your elastic through. I used about 18" of elastic, but my girlies are pretty tiny. The best thing to do is to measure your girlie around the chest and add about 1/2 inch.

#4- Thread the elastic through your casing and sew up the opening.

#5- Now we are going to shir around the skirt on the seam of the second tier. (Doesn't that just work out so nicely?) Shirring is one of my favorite things to do-- as evidenced by my gi-normous spool of elastic thread. It is really very simple, but if you are not into it yet and would prefer, you could always just make another casing. Okay, so to shir, you need to hand wind a bobbin with elastic thread.

Stretch your elastic about 50% as you wind. Put the bobbin in your machine, increase your stitch length to the longest stitch and increase your tension slightly. All set! Every machine is going to be a little different, so you may want to practice on a scrap a few times if you have never done it before.

We are only going to sew the TOP skirt layer. Pull the bottom layer out of the way. There are going to be three lines of stitching. The first will be directly on top of the present seam, the second and third will be 1/4 inch above and below. Many tiered skirts have exposed little edges that you will have to move out of the way as you do your bottom seam. Start sewing on one of the side seams and go around, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. I don't cut my threads as I make the second and third lines of stitching. I just raise my needle up and move the skirt to the next position and continue sewing. When I finish all three lines of stitching, I tie the two elastic threads together in a square knot to secure them.

And we are almost done! So easy. . .

#6- Now we just need some straps. You could really do anything you wanted for straps. I chose to use two long straps that criss-cross in the back and tie into a bow. So, we will need two long straps and two loops. Cut your fabric in two long pieces that measure 4 inches by the width of fabric. Cut off 6 inches from each piece.

And yes, you should always wash and iron your fabric before sewing, but-- I'm lazy. Sorry. ;0)

Okay, ironing time. First, take your long pieces and iron about 1/4 fold on one of the short ends of your fabric, like so:

I also snip off the corners just a tad to cut down on bulk. Next, iron your entire strip in half lengthwise. Unfold and iron each side into the middle line. You should have a two inch strip with both sides folded into the middle (and one little edge folded in on the end). Now, re-iron your strip in half so that you now have four layers of fabric all folded up neatly into a 1 inch strip.

Sew your edges together, starting at your folded end.

You can discard one of your 6 inch pieces (or save it for some fantastic scrappy project!). Take the other and cut it in half lengthwise. Iron each of the two pieces the same way we ironed our long strips, without worrying about the ends. You should end up with two 6 x 1/2 inch strips. Sew up the edges.

I like to also serge the unfinished edges so that they don't fray. You could also finish them with a zigzag stitch.

The long straps are going to be sewn on the front of your dress, about 4-5 inches apart. I find the middle of the front and put a pin in, then measure 2-2.5 inches away from the pin and pin my long strap in place.

In the back, we are making two loops about 3 inches apart. Again, find the middle of the back, mark it with a pin and then pin the loops 1.5 inches from the middle line.

You want the bottom edge of your straps and loops to be below your casing seam. Sew the bottom edge of your straps and loops, using your casing seam as your guide. Then sew the top edge of your skirt on the loops and straps as well. I just push the elastic down a little and sew-- kinda tricky, but helps keep the straps and loops really secure.

#7- Time to try it on the little miss! To tie the straps, bring them straight over the shoulders and cross them in the back. Then thread the left strap through the right loop, outside to inside. Do the same on the other side, tighten it up and tie a bow.

All done. Now let the twirling begin!

***NOTE: This tutorial was done for a size 4-6-ish in mind. If you want it bigger or smaller, it won't take much to adjust-- just make sure your women's skirt will work for what you have in mind. Take the time to hold it up to your little one to make sure the length will work and that the length of the first tier works for you.

Since this is my very first tutorial, I think a giveaway should accompany it-- don't you? Great, well then, see the next post for a fun giveaway!


Ariane said...

What a great idea!!! I love it. Thanks for sharing this tutorial.

Kelly O. said...

Great tutorial!
I am SCARED of using elastic thread but I think I may have to bite the bullet and give it a go :)

Tringali Family said...

So cute! Your photography is so awesome too! Do you have a nice camera?

casserole said...

Great project!! What is it about little girls and twirling their skirts?? I put a skirt on my daughter and she immediately starts spinning all over the room.

I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


charlie said...

I am off to find that Tiered Dress or Skirt. I have been wanting to make a twirly skirt for my grandaughter but this is even MORE fun. She is a girly girl and will just love, love, love it. Thank you SO very much for this. You're the best.

Lacey Bates said...

How cute, and love the photos, great job!!!

Anonymous said...

I am very tempted to try and turn this into an adult dress. Hmm.

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