Tools and Materials
3/4 yard of 45-inch-wide lightweight woven fabric, pre-washed
(Any fabric that is lightweight enough to yield to the elastic thread will work. Quilting cottons, gauzes, lighter linens, chambrays, and shirting weights are all ideal.)
All-purpose thread to match fabric
Elastic thread wound around an extra bobbin
Water-soluble fabric-marking pen
Transparent quilter's ruler
2 yards of spaghetti strap, bias tape (sewn closed), or ribbon for ties, cut into four equal lengths
3. Loosely wind elastic thread around sewing machine bobbin. With elastic thread in bobbin and coordinating thread on top, sew, with fabric right-side up, along the marked lines to create 6 rows of elasticized smocking. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each row, and cut thread before starting a new row.
4. Spray smocked panel with water until stitches are generously dampened. With a very hot steam iron, press the smocked area flat. The stitches should shrink up nicely, and the pen marks should disappear.
5. With a measuring tape, take the chest measurement of the child you're sewing for, and mark a line at this measurement from top of dress to hem. Secure elastic threads by stitching across them at the line with a short, closely spaced straight stitch. Trim off the excess portion of the panel.
6. Fold the smocked panel in half with right sides together, and align the raw edges. Sew along these edges to create a tube. Turn right side out, press seam flat (with seam allowances to one side), and topstitch the seam allowance in place by stitching 1/4 inch from the seam. This seam is the center back of the dress.
7. Without stretching the smocking, measure 2 inches from the center back seam in each direction, and mark with a water-soluble pen. Then measure 6 inches from each marked point toward the center front of the dress, and mark two more points.
8. Turn under the dress's top edge along the pressed creases, tucking the end of one strap underneath the folded edge at each marked point. Fold the strap up against the folded edge and pin in place. Edge-stitch the entire folded edge, securing the straps in place. Knot the ends of the straps to finish them.
ResourcesSpecial thanks to Heather Ross for sharing this project. Heather Ross fabrics by Free Spirit, which were given to our studio audience, are available at freespiritfabric.com and Purl Patchwork. All other tools and materials are available at sewing and fabric stores. Special thanks to STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books for giving copies of Heather's book, "Weekend Sewing: More than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching," to our studio audience.
I'm a sewer-wannabe (not a waste receptacle, but a person that sews). I have the desire to create items such as quilts, couture dresses, felted items, purses and my kids pajamas. Sure I've sewn before. I've made a few easy-sew items (or at least it says so on the package) thanks to my own two hands and my Riccar sewing machine.
I have thread dreams of making just about anything that I want. I often say to myself, " Self, why pay those ridiculous prices? I could easily make that." In reality I wonder how long it would take me to get there? A year or two? Never?
As I was flipping through Vogue, I had one of those previously mentioned moments. I've cut out about a dozen or so pictures of models robed in various high-end designers. I needed a little inspiration to get me going for these next few months of sewing projects.
Until then, I'm secretly hoping that my great-great-grandmother has stuck around long enough to haunt me at my sewing machine for some extra good luck. Hey, as a newbie I'm not picky about who helps me. I am excited to find out that my friend Louis and I are going to start sewing together soon. Until then, I'm ready to start channeling. *winks*