Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: Turtleneck to Toddler Dress

Some time ago, I stumbled across a post via a sewing forum I'm on where someone else shared how she turned turtlenecks into toddler dresses. I added this to my inspiration folder and just recently came back to it in a desire to get some more familiarity working with knit fabrics. And besides, we recently stopped liking to wear turtlenecks and collected a number of ours still in good condition. What do you do with them besides bring them to Goodwill? Coming across the tutorial again was the answer!

Recently, I made one with the tutorial, adding my own decorations and embellishments. I thought I'd try my hand at sharing the tutorial for making the dress and the embellishments I added.

1. Choose the turtleneck you'd like to use. The larger the shirt, the larger you can make the dress. This red one I used was actually an L.L Bean Girl's large and the finished dress I think could have fit a 12-18 month baby. An XL or XXL turtleneck might fit up to a 3-year-old.

2. We're ready to start cutting! This is a forgiving pattern, so if your edges don't come out straight or even, don't worry; it won't show! Cut out the top of the shirt, including the neck, and the ends of the sleeves as shown. I had the baby dress shown in the first picture beside me for sizing reference while I was cutting. I left about 1 1/2" on each side of the neck, and cut the sleeves about 5" long.

3. Now, starting on one side, under the arms, cut off the remaining sleeve straight across, meeting up with the corner where you cut out the top of the shirt, and do the same on the other side. You now have the remainder of the bottom of the shirt which will be the skirt of the dress, already hemmed too!

This should be all you have left of the shirt at this point.

4. Sew sleeves to armholes, turning the bodice inside out and matching the underarm seams. Stretch and pin to fit before sewing. In the top of the skirt, run two rows of gathering stitches. Pin side seams to match side seams on bodice, and pull gathering stitches to fit. Pin and sew.

5. Congratulations! If you've gotten this far, your dress is finished, and we'll be adding the embellishments next. Be sure and cut any remaining threads so everything's neat and tidy. You don't need to finish the raw edges inside; knits do not unravel the way woven fabrics do.

6. I decided to add the trims in navy blue. Cut a 2 1/2"-3" strip from the bottom of the shirt, keeping the hem as the hem of the strip so that you don't have to make a hem.

7. Run a gathering stitch along the top of the strip you just cut. Measure about 4" from the hem of the dress and pin the hem of the ruffle on that mark. If you'd like it higher or lower, adjust it, and gather the ruffle to fit. Pin in place and sew it down, sewing right over the gathering stitches.

8: Cut three 1 1/2" wide strips from the remaining hem of the shirt, cutting them open at one end so they're strips. Run a gathering stitch down the middle of each and pull gathering stitches as much as you can. The strips will be very ruffly. Leave one a little longer than the other.

9. Sew the three ruffled strips to the front of the dress as shown. Cut three 1/2" wide strips from the remaining hem of shirt, cutting them open at the end. Make gathering stitches and gather tightly as you did with the previous strips. Sew these strips to the hems of the sleeves and around the edge of the neck. Make sure to pin them first and make sure you pin the neck strip on the inside so that when the neck is folded down, it will be on the outside.

Trim all your loose threads, and wash the dress as sewing on the sleeve ruffles will have stretched out the sleeves and you'll want to shrink them back down.

And, the finished dress! If you do try this tutorial and would like to share, I'd love to see your creations! I have a few more with different color combinations and embellishments in the works that I'll share when finished.

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